Orlando Bloom for “Kingdom of Heaven”

Born in Canterbury, England in 1977, Orlando Bloom’s plans of becoming an actor developed quite early when he realized that the characters on TV and in the movies weren’t real, that they were actors. In 1993, he moved to London to improve his career, doing bit parts in TV series like “Casualty”.

Orlando spent two years at the National Youth Theatre before getting a scholarship to train with the British American Drama Academy. His first memorable appearance, a cameo in the critically acclaimed movie “Wilde” in 1997, earned him various film offers, which he all turned down in favor to play theatre. After “Wilde”, Orlando attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for 3 years. On stage, he appeared in plays like “The Seagull”, “Twelfth Night”, and “Trojan Women”.

Peter Jackson then “discovered” the classically handsome Bloom for his much hyped “Lord Of The Rings” trilogy in 1999. After doing the three Rings movies with Jackson, he worked with Ridley Scott on “Black Hawk Down”. Since then, he has been working on new projects non-stop. 2003 saw the release of “Ned Kelly”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”, and “The Return of the King”. In 2004, “Troy” and “The Calcium Kid” were released, and the indie film Haven made it’s debute at the 2004 Toronto Film Festival. Also, in 2004 he began filming his first starring role in a major production, “Kingdom of Heaven”, again with Ridley Scott and recently he spoke with us about his work on the project:

Question: What would you go on a crusade for today?

Bloom: Happiness. Humanity. Life is…if it isn’t about human beings living in harmony, then I don’t know what it’s about…it doesn’t matter what color you are, it doesn’t matter what religion you are, it doesn’t matter what your beliefs are, what sex you are, what sexuality you are, we’re all equal in the eyes of your god, whoever that may be. Religion shouldn’t come into it.

Question: What was it like fighting a Jedi?

Bloom: You mean being trained by a Jedi? It was an honor…Liam Neeson inspired me beyond belief and I felt very blessed to have him be my father and lead me through the first act of the movie and graciously guide me as that role. He’s a remarkable actor and a very dear man, and I was very fortunate. I think I’ve been lucky in my career to work with the actors that I’ve worked with because I’ve learned so much from all of them.

Question: Are you sick of playing blacksmiths yet?

Bloom: Brush up the old andirons again! You know what, when I read this script, I was coming back from TROY and I was leaving Mexico, and I read this script on the plane and I turned to my friend and said “Wow. This is the polar opposite of Paris, who was the cowardly younger brother.” This is a reluctant hero in the sort of spaghetti Western, cowboy movie style of a hero.

I had no idea what would happen. I sat down with Ridley for two hours in a meeting, and we talked about what the movie was. And then he said “Why don’t you come in tomorrow?” So I had like nine hours to learn three of the biggest scenes in the movie. I had like two hours sleep, I had a stick on beard the next morning, I had blood on my face, chain mail on my back, and I was standing in front of the camera with Ridley Scott directing me. This is the guy who threw me out of a helicopter in BLACK HAWK DOWN, you know what I mean? I admire him and respect him.

Question: Did you ever think to yourself “What have I jumped into?”

Bloom: Believe me, the whole way through this movie. If it weren’t for Ridley, who made what was a 140 million dollar movie, which was the biggest set that I’d ever been on, and I’ve been on some big sets in my short career, which I’m very grateful for, he really made it accessible to me and he really guided me through.

Question: Was it difficult for you as actor, to say this is a very controversial subject, how am I going to address this?

Bloom: When you sit down with someone like Ridley and you talk about the opportunity of working with him, and you know his history of making movies, and the integrity with which he delivers a movie, there were really no questions. Obviously, this is a sensitive topic with the Crusades as the backdrop. But I think it’s very balanced the way he displayed the chivalry and courage of Saladin…it was a sensitive subject, but I feel that it has been handled with kid gloves.

Question: Were you ever apprehensive about having trouble dropping your flaxen haired Elvish image?

Bloom: Legolas was an incredible character for my first movie. In a way, I was lucky that I didn’t have too much to do or say because I might’ve messed it up being straight out of drama school. And I still feel like I’m in the first chapter of my life really as an actor and my career and I’ve still got mistakes to make and things to learn…I was very happy to lose the blonde wig and have my own look. That was a choice made by Peter, and I was really glad of it because it totally transformed me, and it made the leap to being that elf-like character a lot easier.

Question: Which director do you think you’ve learned the most from?

Bloom: Honestly, I’ve learned so much from each of them individually and in different ways. I couldn’t say that I’ve learned more from one than the other. Ridley is an inspirational director. He knows how to shoot a movie and I learned a lot form being on that set. But, equally with Peter, which was my first experience, or with Gore, who’s got a really great sense of comedy as well as drama. They’ve all been very different in my experience.

Question: Do you think audiences are ready to see a balanced treatment of Islam?

Bloom: Well, I hope so. I think what you see today, is what’s been happening, it says in the end title, it’s been going on for a 1000 years. When are we gonna realize that we share this planet as one? Ultimately, there has always been war over religion, money, power, land, water, oil, whatever. It’s futile. The message of this movie is one of humanity and Balian is a man who reluctantly assumes the position of being a knight, but he follows his creed right through to the end, defending the people.

Question: Can you talk a bit about “Elizabethtown”?

Bloom: Cameron Crowe is an amazing man, and director…he really knows what he wants, and he really goes for what he wants, and he’s particular about character. It was an amazing experience for me…This is a guy who’s got his hand on his heart and one finger on the pulse of America as far as I can tell. He just knows how to take a moment and just make it such a real sublime moment.

I had an amazing experience working in the heartland of America, which is something I’d never been to before, being in Kentucky, being in Louisville, being embraced by the people and seeing how that side of America really exists, and it’s such a strong presence that I was never really aware of because I’d always only ever been in New York and LA. There’s a real sense of community and family. Then I drove back from Scottsbluff, Nebraska to Los Angeles, on my own, just me and the dog in the car, it was amazing to see how much expansive land I’d passed without seeing anyone.

Question: Can you tell us a little about the “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel?

Bloom: As you know, Johnny’s the pirate to end all pirates. So Will is the straight man…he’s the straight man who moves the story forward as he did in the first movie, and he continues that. Obviously, he becomes more of the pirate. Piracy isn’t in his blood in the same way that it is for Jack Sparrow. It’s gonna develop. The third movie, I still haven’t read the script, but there are plans to sort of darken Will up a little and make him a little bit more questionable, and that will resolve themselves. But I love the character. I love the opportunity to work with Johnny again, with Gore again, with Keira again. We’ve just started shooting. We’re about… four weeks into shooting. We’re gonna shoot the second movie and a little bit of the third movie, just cause of the locations, and then we’re gonna be shooting the third movie.

Question: What about the rumours of Keith Richards making a cameo as Johnny Depps’ father?

Bloom: You know, I’ve heard the rumors as well as you. I think if he makes an appearance it will probably be in the third movie. We’ll see what happens.

Question: What do you have planned after Pirates 2 and 3?

Bloom: No plans after that. I may take a break depending on what happens. I may try and do some theatre. In truth I’m about due for probably some downtime.