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Feature: Orlando Bloom
Heaven Can Wait
The young star talks about his unrelenting and relatively speedy rise in fortunes
Having been plucked from a position some way beyond mere obscurity to play Legolas the archer elf in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Canterbury-born Bloom has wasted no time in establishing himself as one of Britain’s hottest young actors.
In doing so he has criss-crossed the globe in a variety of far flung locations, from New Zealand to Morocco, Malta to Australia, Spain to Morocco again. But if there were any lingering doubts that he is just a pretty face, a dependable team player who lacked the right stuff to take the lead and dominate a movie in his own right, then Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven looks set to lay them to rest. This, you can be sure, is the movie in which ‘Orlando Bloom Movie Star’ comes of age.
“It’s an incredible story,” he said, shortly before beginning work on the film, “one of the best scripts I’ve ever read. And it’s my first leading role in a film on that sort of scale. It’s global, my first global leading role, and it feels sort of right to be doing that with a sword and a period costume because [in recent years] I feel I’ve become used to that.”
There’s a neat symmetry to this being the film that launches Bloom into a higher orbit, as it reunites him with the director who had first cast him four years ago in Black Hawk Down. As Ranger Private First Class Todd Blackburn, he barely had time to show off his American accent before his memorably shocking 60 foot fall from a Black Hawk helicopter.
Which was a shame, because it was clearly something he had worked hard on. “I decided to speak in my American voice all day long so that I felt it was my own,” he said at the time. “Americans are very strong and focussed in the way they communicate, whereas Brits kind of offer something and then stop. There’s also a difference in the body language between the two nationalities. We’re a bit more formal in Britain, so here I had to learn to relax.”
Blackburn’s demise sets the tone for grim events that would gradually engulf the American soldiers on a search and rescue mission in the Sudanese capital of Mogadishu. But it would, ironically, offer the first glimpse for fans of a young actor possessing enormous potential. This much was evident with the almost simultaneous release of the film which truly made his name, the first Lord of the Rings adventure, The Fellowship of the Ring.
As Legolas, the bow-wielding elf who joins the Frodo’s mission to return the all-powerful ring whence it came he managed to bring nobility and a touch of steely resolve to a character who – with his pointy ears and long, flowing blond locks – might otherwise have seemed a lightweight addition to the group. As it was, he complemented Frodo, Aragorn and the rest perfectly.
by Anwar Brett
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