Home Contact Webmaster Chat Message Board
  Contact Orlando
It's His Time to Bloom, USA Weekend, April 29-May 1, 2005
last 2 scans by Adrienne
By Michele Hatty

At 28, Orlando Bloom already has won over audiences -- and many a young girl's heart. But he's a little nervous about this next big step.

"Bohemian. Still maturing. Still growing," confides Orlando Bloom. "It is a little chaotic."

This bit of introspection from Hollywood's newest leading man seems revealing -- and dead-on. In a deconstructed black jacket and a conductor's cap, Bloom's bohemian side is definitely on display. As for the maturing and growing part -- well, he's only 28 and an actor whose star is rising. Friday, he plunges into battle and onto the big screen in Ridley Scott's "Kingdom of Heaven," an epic adventure about the 12th-century Crusades.

But Bloom's comments are not a talk-show- style confessional. Instead, he's describing his new "very large" apartment in London, which currently serves as a warehouse for "all these crazy things I buy on locations all around the world." Bloom, who has supposedly just broken up with the even younger Kate Bosworth, continues talking -- about his apartment, that is: "It is definitely in need of attention and love."

No wonder Bloom feels a bit uprooted. The almost preternaturally pretty actor has spent most of the past few years living like a highly paid gypsy, shooting incredibly successful movies in exotic places like Tunisia, New Zealand and the Cayman Islands.

Now, back in high-stakes Hollywood, he is understandably on edge. He's here to promote the $130 million "Kingdom of Heaven," the first real test of his young career. In it, he stars as young hero Balian, who leaves France to join one of the greatest battles of all time. "It's an epic story," Bloom explains, "of one man's journey of growth and understanding on spiritual, political, social and personal levels."

But as our conversation veers toward the personal, this listener can't help but think Bloom, despite his soft-spoken intensity, has an invisible barricade around him. It's a protection, most likely, from the constant snooping of paparazzi and an international phalanx of smitten female fans. Just ask him about his dog, which has been nuzzling the actor intermittently all afternoon, and Bloom becomes almost comically secretive. "Are you going to write about him?" he asks, somewhat appalled. "He already gets so much attention ..."

As do Bloom's girl troubles. His relationship with blond beauty Bosworth reportedly ended earlier this year, but it appears the two can't decide whether they really are ready to be over each other. Since the breakup, they've been seen canoodling all over town, and some say they are getting back together. Whether he'll reunite with Bosworth -- at the moment a freshly cut bouquet sits on the dining room table, and Bloom is mum as to the sender -- is anyone's guess. He will admit only that this has been a "pretty difficult, challenging time."

The unfailingly polite actor rises and begins to bang around his hotel bungalow's kitchen, putting a pot of water on the stove for tea and then fixing dinner for his dog, Sidi, whom he adopted while filming Heaven in Morocco. Once the tea is ready, he returns to the patio and begins to share more about his life.

With his boyish face, doe eyes and coltish 5-foot-11 frame, Bloom does not fit neatly into the Hollywood-leading-man profile. Unlike his former co-stars Brad Pitt (Troy), Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean) and Viggo Mortensen (the Lord of the Rings trilogy), Bloom doesn't ooze chiseled confidence. Even he sheepishly admits: "I'm not Brad Pitt. But that's OK. You just have to accept what you have and work with it."

It is this humility-tinged sweetness -- he's the type of guy who will put a cashmere wrap around a visitor's shoulders if she looks cold -- that makes it easy to understand why girls from Alaska to Australia have turned Bloom-swooning into just another part of the itinerant actor's anything-but-average daily routine.

French femme fatale Eva Green, who plays the married queen Bloom falls in love with in Heaven, experienced it first-hand as they shot the movie. "I couldn't sleep at night because there were fans screaming outside, crazy," she marvels.

Bloom isn't quite sure how to handle the attention. "It's flattering," he says, "but it's also a little overwhelming."

Not long ago, he was just a kid growing up in England, attending London's Guildhall School of Music & Drama. In fact, one might have thought that Bloom's most dramatic days were behind him by the time he finished school: In a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction fashion, he grew up believing that his dad was human-rights activist Harry Bloom, who died when Orlando was 4. Several years later, however, his mom, Sonia Copeland ("the most beautifully eccentric woman in the world"), revealed to him and older sister Samantha, now an aspiring actress, that their biological father is actually a family friend. Bloom took the news in stride and, in recent years, has said equally kind words about both of his "dads."

Today, Bloom is in the Hollywood hot seat -- and he knows it. With disarming candor he explains: "This is the first time I'm the lead in a major movie. There's a lot of things to be worried about."

First, there's the question of whether People magazine's hottest bachelor of 2004 can cut it as a leading man. Until now, Bloom's been almost a sidekick to megawatt stars like Pitt and Depp. "Despite being in some of the biggest movies of the last decade, he hasn't really broken through as a true star," says "Chicago Sun-Times" columnist and "Ebert & Roeper" film critic Richard Roeper. "He was supposed to be the star of Pirates, but Johnny Depp swiped the picture. He was a solid supporting cog in the Lord of the Rings movies, but other actors made more lasting impressions."

Plus, before it even opens, Heaven has spawned its share of controversy. Historian James Reston Jr. has accused Ridley Scott and the screenwriter of stealing material from one of his books. The movie studio has adamantly denied the accusation.

What's more, the subject of the movie has spurred a small tempest. Set against the backdrop of the Crusades, it portrays the ancient conflict between Christians and Muslims -- a sensitive subject at a time when the United States is waging a war in Muslim Iraq.

"There are parallels to be drawn," Bloom says quietly, "but in life, this has been going on forever. People have been fighting over religion, over land, over water, over oil, over power. It's been going for hundreds of years, and it's not changing."

No one knows what's at stake more than Scott, the movie's director and producer, whose last historical epic, "Gladiator," won the 2000 Best Picture Oscar. Scott says "Heaven's" scope meant Bloom had to show a commanding presence. "One of the big testing grounds," Scott says, "was when Orlando had to walk on one morning in front of 3,000 extras and address them and really give his 'Henry V speech.' It was the moment I felt he was most nervous."

No wonder Bloom tries to ground himself. A student of Buddhism, he credits the ancient religion with helping him stay centered. "It is a philosophy and a guide to life that I have admired for a long time," he says. "It helps me find a sense of calm and peace in the center of the storm and not to be blown around by the things going on around me."

Go to top

Orlando at a glance

Bloom's career has blossomed with a series of blockbusters -- and despite a few duds.

Kingdom of Heaven (2005): It's back into period garb for Bloom (with Eva Green) as he takes the lead in this Crusades-era epic.

Troy (2004): As spoiled Paris, he wooed Helen (Diane Kruger) to Troy, sparking the Trojan War.

The Calcium Kid (2004): The actor's first leading role. He played a milkman-turned-boxer in this small British indie.

Ned Kelly (2004): Bloom headed Down Under to film this story of an Australian outlaw.

Pirates of the Caribbean (2003): Bloom played straight man to Johnny Depp.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-03): His breakout role. As the elf Legolas, Bloom hit heartthrob status.

Black Hawk Down (2001): This was the actor's first opportunity to work with Ridley Scott. Now, Scott directs him in Heaven.

Wilde (1998): In his first film, a biography of Oscar Wilde, a baby-faced Bloom played a "rent boy."

Photograph by Robert Sebree for USA WEEKEND

Grooming: D. Garen Tolkin, Exclusive Artists/Zirh. Styling: Cher Coulter, Avant Groupe. Shirt and pants on cover, and pants above, by Neil Barrett. Shirt above by Helmut Lang.