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How My Orlando Bloomed, The Sun (UK), August 1, 2003
By Grant Rollings
typed by The OB Files, scans by Michaela

HE may be Hollywood's hottest young star but Orlando Bloom's biggest fan is his proud mum.

The heart-throb actor has appeared in a string of movie blockbusters, including new box office smash Pirates of the Caribbean.

But the only audience that really matters to him is his mother Sonia Copeland Bloom.

And in an exclusive interview she tells of her devotion to her boy and lifts the lid on his childhood - including the family trauma over his father.

Sonia, a retired company director from Canterbury, Kent, says: "I love Orlando to bits. He gets gorgeous mail.

"His fans are all positive about him. They hero-worship him and they see him as a role model. Already people come to Canterbury and ask for directions to Orlando Bloom's house.

"I think he is a bit of a phenomenon. There is something very special about him and he's almost oblivious to it."

But his life has not been without problems. As a lad, Orlando believed his father was Harry Bloom, the renowned author and campaigner for black rights in South Africa.

Yet at 12, Sonia told him that Harry, who died when Orlando was four, was NOT his biological dad.

His father - and that of his sister Samantha, 28, - was Sonia's lover Colin Stone, who lived with her while Harry was terminally ill after a stroke.

Yet Sonia stresses: "Orlando has a very happy background. It is something he has grown up with. Orlando is not sad. 

"It was marvellous when he learned that Colin was his father. He was brought up surrounded by a loving family."

Orlando, 26, who earns 2million a movie, says: "It's an unusual story but then again, you show me a family and I'll show you an unusual story."

The actor was given the name Orlando because Harry wanted something easy to remember.

Sonia explains: "Harry had trouble with his students' names and thought he would always remember an Orlando. The family thought he might get teased but he has always loved having it."

Now Orlando is making his name in the movie capital. Pirates hit No 1 in the US in its first weekend, taking 44 million in five days.

The hunk stars alongside Johnny Depp in the 80 million Disney blockbuster. They are pictured together right.

Orlando, who also appears in The Lord of the Rings trilogy as blond elf Legolas and has been filming mega-budget epic Troy with Brad Pitt, also had to overcome other problems.

Like his Pirates co-star Keira Knightley, Orlando is dyslexic. Sonia helped him overcome it.

Sonia says: "He reads scripts all the time. It hardly effects him now. Orlando got eight O-Levels and 3 A-Levels.

"He is a wonderful sculptor. Very artistic and very bright."

In return, Orlando admits he is still very close to his mum. He says: "I'm a hero to her but what is really important to me is my family and my friends and the people who are closest to me. I try to maintain some sort of sense of reality through work, friends and my family."

Sonia made sure her son got a good education. Orlando went to 9,000-a-year St Edmund's public school in Canterbury.

But the promising young star's acting career nearly ended before it began. In 1998, while he was a student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, he fell three storeys from a rooftop terrace and broke his back.

Orlando recalls: "I'm rather accident prone I have to admit. I have also broken my ribs, my nose, both my legs, my arm, my wrist, a finger and a toe and cracked my skull three times."

Fortunately, despite filming the tough sword fights in Pirates of the Caribbean, he came away with just a couple of scratches and bruising.

But shooting on the the Caribbean on real sailing ships did get a bit hairy.

Orlando says "We were sometimes 20 miles out at sea and the swells got kind of big. You can't get off the ship when you're that far from land."

In the film, released in Britain next Friday, Orlando plays romantic lead Will Turner, who falls in love with Elizabeth Swann, played by Keira.

As well as Depp the story, about a cursed pirate ship, also stars Geoffrey Rush.

Orlando, whose nickname is Orli, says: "I love making films like Pirates, I love dressing up."

Orlando has become a star in a short time. At the age of 16 he joined the National Youth Theatre in London. He landed bit parts in TV's Casualty and Midsomer Murders before studying at the Guildhall.

He says: "The opportunity to do The Lord of the Rings came straight out of school and it wasn't much of a decision. I was like, 'Where do I sign?'"

The 5ft 11in star has been linked to some beautiful girls. But he puts his career first.

He says: "Women are great. But I didn't take up acting so I could kiss a girl."