Quick Facts:

Early Life, Training and Career:

Orlando was born on January 13, 1977 to anti-apartheid activist and novelist Harry Bloom in Kent. Orlando's father died when Orlando was four, and he was raised by his mother along with his older sister. His mother, therefore, influenced his early years, and taught him and his sister to appreciate the arts. She encouraged the pair to participate in the Kent Festival. Orlando began reciting poetry and prose, but then discovered acting, due to his childhood hero Superman (Christopher Reeve): "Once I realised Superman was an actor, I thought, 'That's for me mate'".

At the age of sixteen (1993), he moved to London to act and train with the National Youth Theatre. He spent two years here, and was then awarded a scholarship which allowed him to train with the British American Drama Academy. Having left the Academy, he appeared in a stage production of 'A Walk in the Vienna Woods', and following this, had an agent. Aged 20, Orlando was cast in his first film role, a tiny part in the 1997 movie Wilde (about Oscar Wilde). Following this film role, Orlando received other film offers, but these he turned down, as he wanted to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (alums include Ewan MacGregor, Joseph Fiennes and Ben Chaplin). He appeared in several Guildhall stage productions including: The Seagull, Twelfth Night, Trojan Women, Three Sisters, Uncle Vanya and Antigone. He was soon making guest appearances on various British television shows, including The Ben Elton Show, Casualty and later (at the time of his Lord of the Rings audition), Midsomer Murders where he "died horribly of a pitchfork to the stomach".

Orlando describes himself as "accident-prone", and this is an accurate description. He has broken a rib, his nose, both legs, an arm, a wrist, a finger, a toe and has cracked his skull no less than three times (although this is unsurprising as his favourite things to do are extreme sports). In 1998, while still at Guildhall, Orlando was attempting to climb onto the rooftop terrace of a friend when he fell three stories, resulting in a broken back. While doctors prophesised that he would not walk again, Orlando walked (on crutches, naturally!) out of hospital less than two weeks later. He has not forgotten his lucky escape, once telling a reporter: "They didn't think I would walk again, and twelve days later, I walked out of the hospital on crutches. My back is a constant reminder of how lucky I am."

Lord of the Rings and New Zealand:

"I will take Legolas, and this experience in New Zealand, wherever I go. The beautiful thing about being an actor is every character you embrace, when you move on, you take part of the character with you."
"This is Wellington, man. It's great. I was out surfing in Lyall Bay today." - Commenting on the typically windy and rough weather at the LotR Wellington premiere.
"I've grown up here, and it's been a great place to grow up." - Discussing Wellington at the premiere. (Awww, shucks!)

Orlando had tried reading J.R.R. Tolkien's classic Lord of the Rings trilogy while a young teenager, but had never finished the books. During his final year at Guildhall, however, he had reason to try once more - he was auditioning for Peter Jackson's movie trilogy as Faramir (brother of Boromir, who is introduced in The Two Towers), by video. He was then met by Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh, who taped him once more auditioning for Faramir. Three days short of his graduation, in 1999 at age 22, Orlando Bloom received an excellent graduation gift - he was cast in the movies not as Faramir, but as the major-character Warrior Elf Prince from Mirkwood, Legolas Greenleaf (Jackson had already cast Faramir, and had rung Orlando's agent to ask Orlando to read as Legolas). With this role, Orlando left London in the Autumn of 1999, and headed for the South Pacific, to New Zealand.

Upon his arrival in New Zealand, Orlando worked hard for two months to acquire the skills he needed to accurately portray Legolas Greenleaf (2,931 years old), the poised, graceful, deadly, athletic archer and member of the Fellowship of the Ring. He took lessons in riding, archery and swordplay, plus extras in posture, poise and composure so as to gain a graceful style of combat, using Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai as an example. Playing Legolas was to be a difficult task, as he also has super-human strength, heightened awareness and swift reflexes. "Legolas' moves are smooth and elegant, like a cat...it's very balletic. It's also bloody hard to do without falling over!" he has said.

Training alone, however, was not all that Orlando needed to portray Legolas. Being olive skinned, dark eyed and with dark hair, Orlando needed blue coloured contacts, lots of makeup and a long, blond wig to look like the aryan Elf Prince. In fact, the only thing the two characters have in common are Orlando's dramatic cheekbones! Legolas had a relatively small role in the first movie installment, The Fellowship of the Ring, and mainly had no spoken lines. Orlando's acting stood out, and was accurately described by Movieline Magazine (who selected his performance as one of the Ten Standout Performances of young actors in 2001) as: "He did have an almost unreal, cheekbone-bedecked handsomeness, but he also moved with crystalline resolve and athletic grace. Even when a million things are happening at once, Bloom grabs your attention and makes you feel everything that depends on the great battle of good and evil." Indeed, Orlando used motions to convey much more about Legolas than dialogue ever could, and did justice to the classic character. This continued in part two of the movie trilogy, The Two Towers, in which Legolas has a much larger role, and considerably more dialogue (including most of the film's humour, which must have been difficult to combine with the detatched poise of the character).

Of course, Orlando's love of action sports didn't desert him during filming in New Zealand, even though the movie team warned him against accidents! He learned to surf with the actors playing the hobbits, to snowboard, and to bungeejump. He also had a few chances to paraglide, which he already enjoyed. "We sampled everything the country has to offer. The weirdest things to throw yourself off are to be found in New Zealand," he said, when asked about his sporting pursuits. Strangely enough, Orlando's only New Zealand accident occurred during filming, when Legolas and Gimli were riding a horse. The horse fell, and John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) landed on Orlando, cracking one of his ribs. Luckily, Orlando was so used to accidents that he was back filming within two days.

During the fifteen months of filming, the actors on the set quite obviously got to know one another well. Viggo Mortensen (who portrays the human hier of Gondor Aragorn) had many scenes with Orlando, and the two became friends. Naturally, they joked about the differences in their characters, referring to each other as "Elf Boy" and "Filthy Human". Legolas, too, always survived battles in perfect condition, although the same could not be said of the bloody and sweaty Aragorn, leading to Viggo commenting "Oh, go manicure your nails." At times this joking got quite in-depth: "Viggo will go on about Elves and how they're always doing their nails and brushing their long, blonde hair, and being all prissy. And I just say: Well, at least I'm going to live forever! Got that? LIVE FOREVER!"

Set friendships developed with other actors, to the point that when Dominic Monaghan (Meriadoc Brandybuck, a hobbit) and Orlando schemed together and decided that the nine actors who portrayed the members of the Fellowship of the Ring should get a tattoo of the Elven character for 'nine', all the actors except John Rhys-Davies (his stunt double got the tattoo instead) agreed - even Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf)! All agreed not to show the tattoos to the press, but one or two of the actors caved in on this agreement, and photos of the tattoo can be seen on the internet. In addition to this tattoo (on his forearm), Orlando also has a small tattoo of the sun below his belly button, which was created when he was fifteen.

With the release of the first trilogy installment, The Fellowship of the Ring in December 2001, Orlando became a huge star overnight, and appeared in multiple magazines and talk shows. Along with the press attention came accolades for his acting - he won the "Breakthrough Male" award at the 2002 MTV Movie Awards, was nominated (with the other nine Fellowship members) for the "Best Ensemble" at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and also won the "Best Debut" at the 2002 Empire Awards. Of course, there were also accolades for his Elven hotness, including: "Most Beautiful Person" (WHO Magazine), "Hottest Adventurer" (Teen People), "Mr February 2002" (?) and was number 6 in the E!Online Sizzling Sixteen...

Other Films and Facts:

Since completing a draining fifteen months (although another source says eighteen) of Lord of the Rings filming, Orlando moved to Los Angeles. He quickly got a role in Black Hawk Down (other actors include Ewan McGregor and Josh Hartnett) and headed for Morocco for filming his small but important role, which was also received well by critics.

Following the huge movies The Fellowship of the Ring and Black Hawk Down, Orlando landed roles in Lullaby of Clubland and Deed Poll, two darkly quirky low-budget British flims, where he co-starred with Andre Schneider (German actor and comedian). He's also recently finished (mid-2002) a film set in Victoria, Australia about Ned Kelly, a very famous Australian outlaw, along with Heath Ledger. Other projects include a starring role in The Calcium Kid (a movie about a British milkman who becomes a boxer), Pirates of the Caribbean (with his idol Johnny Depp) and will soon portray Paris in Troy (with Brad Pitt and Eric Bana). Orlando has said that he is interested in acting in small films and portraying very different character types. Interesting enough, Orlando has also said that he isn't worried about being linked to Legolas for the rest of his career, as he thinks Legolas is a "cool little dude".

Aside from acting and extreme sports, Orlando keeps himself pretty busy. Even though he's a self-proclaimed technophobe (no computer, email or interest in creating a website) and doesn't read magazines or watch television, he is interested in artistic pursuits such as sculpting and photography, saying "It is important to exercise different creative areas of your brain. It balances you." He is also a vegetarian.



p.s. whoever softlinked 'You Sexy Thing'... right on!

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