Orlando Bloom interview - the pin-up hero is leaving blockbusters behind: 'No more family films. Now it’s grittier roles'

He is making a fresh start, starting with a tough role as an alcoholic South African cop

Earlier this month Orlando Bloom was given one of Hollywood’s highest accolades, a star on the Walk of Fame, the 2,521st one. Accepting the award, the 37-year-old actor was more doting family man than cinema star, playing with his young son Flynn and graciously giving his estranged wife, the Australian model Miranda Kerr, thanks for supporting him in his career. There were complimentary speeches, too, from his fellow hall-of-famer Forest Whitaker, who stars with the British actor in his new film, Zulu, and David Leveaux, the five-time Tony Award nominee who has just directed the British actor on Broadway in Romeo and Juliet. It was a happy day, but Bloom’s star also looked like something of a headstone, signifying the end of his time as a handsome young action hero.

Bloom shows remarkable self-awareness as  he describes his current career conundrum: “I was part of two franchises, two trilogies, that at the onset of my career depicted me as a heart-throb and a teen pin-up and for a certain window there was a lot of money being made by a lot of people by me being that guy. And then they move onto the next guy, and you’re left going: ‘What do I do now?’ Because there is a lot more to me than that.”

Born in Canterbury in 1977, Bloom was only two days out of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 1999 when he was cast as Legolas in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In 2003, the summer before the final instalment of the Peter Jackson extravaganza, The Return of the King, would make a huge amount at the box office and sweep the Oscars, Bloom appeared as Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, another critical and commercial success.

For a time, it seemed that Bloom walked around with a golden ring in his pocket. Everyone wanted a piece of him; he was on magazine covers; he had houses in London and Los Angeles; his love life, most notably an on-off relationship with Kate Bosworth, became public property; his agent was inundated with offers.

How did he cope? “When I finished Pirates I went to Antarctica for three months on a science research boat because I couldn’t stop my head from spinning,” he recalls. “Then I did a play in the West End [a revival of David Storey’s 1969 drama In Celebration]. I think it was a great choice for me because I was terrified of going on stage. As a kid I’d done a lot of things and I’d lived a lot of stuff. I needed to take myself out of the equation for a bit to get some perspective, because I lost some perspective, seriously at times.”

What did that losing perspective entail? He pauses and gives a long, vibrating “erm” before responding, “I suppose being quite young and being thrust quite dramatically into a large public arena skewered my vision of what it means to live and be a part of something”. He didn’t go completely off the rails, he is quick to state, “But in my own way... you start playing a game to become what people think you are. You sort of unwittingly play into that image, as opposed to just being who you are.”

He met Victoria’s Secret Angel Kerr in 2007 and they married in July 2010. Six months later their son Flynn was born in Los Angeles. He adores being a father. “It’s great, I love it. It’s probably the most rewarding thing that has ever happened to me.” The worst thing that has happened may be his split from Kerr. The couple separated in the summer last year, although they officially announced their split in November. The parting has been handled well. The couple went out as a family soon after the announcement was made, and they have both gone out of their way to profess their ongoing love for each other. In Hollywood acting terms, it is a very British split, more Hugh Grant and Liz Hurley than Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

Their decision to put their house in the Hollywood Hills up for sale last October might have served as a sign of their split had the home not been targeted by the Bling Ring, a group of teenagers who became notorious for robbing the houses of the rich and famous in LA. One of the culprits, Nicholas Prugo, is wearing a striped T-shirt stolen from Bloom in his mug shot.

Their notoriety was secured when Sofia Coppola made a film, The Bling Ring, about the criminals last year. Bloom has yet to see it. “Paris Hilton asked if she could do a cameo in the film and because she asked they then asked me if I would [do a] cameo. I said ‘no’, not because I don’t think she is a wonderful director – I’d love to work with her by the way – but because it was too close to home.”

The film depicts the gang breaking into Bloom’s home having first established online that he was filming in New York and that Kerr was with him, and then using Google Earth to check his address. They are filmed finding a box of Rolexes and a wad of cash in a cupboard. “I didn’t see the movie so I didn’t see how easy it was for them to break into the house. I would imagine it was that way as Coppola got it from the horse’s mouth; it might well have been that easy. It’s funny because we got them all on camera.” Indeed, it was Bloom’s CCTV footage that helped police catch the gang. He testified at the trial before putting the house up for rent.

At the end of last year, Bloom made his debut on Broadway in Romeo and Juliet. It was a chance for him to use his superstar status to demonstrate his acting chops and could be seen as the last entry in his career as heart-throb. Romeo was, he says, “a different challenge for me. I think I sneak in just under the wire to be not too old, but it’s getting close.” It’s true that he still retains his youthful looks. “Shakespeare is a wonderful language to speak, but it’s also a world to get your mind into thematically,” he says. “A black Capulet family and a white Montague family.”

Zulu, the film that he hopes will represent a new beginning, also deals with racial themes. Helmed by the French director Jérôme Salle and adapted from the novel by Caryl Férey, the action is set on South Africa’s gang-ridden streets. Bloom plays an alcoholic, pill-popping detective, trying to cope with an ex-wife and 17-year-old daughter, who partners with Forest Whitaker’s Ali Sokhela, a policeman haunted by apartheid, after a rich white teenage girl is found dead in Cape Town.

“If you think of the character of Brian, you wouldn’t necessarily think of me playing that role,” says Bloom. “[Jérôme] had the vision to see that perhaps I could do something different with it. I think he wanted to go against those cliches and try to have it be a real character. It’s the type of role that was probably meant for Clive Owen and he was too busy, so I got a look-in. I’ll always be grateful to Jérôme for thinking outside the box and giving me the opportunity to play this character. I’m not sure that I got it right, but I gave it a good shot and I enjoyed it doing it. That’s all you can do.”

South Africa is a special place for the actor on a personal level. “There is a connection there,” he says. “My mother’s husband Harry Bloom was a writer, a novelist, a reporter and an anti-apartheid activist.

“When I arrived they gave me a book called Jewish Memories of Mandela and there was a two-page spread on Harry Bloom as a political figure. Having grown up until I was 13 believing he was my father, and having him die when I was four, there are ideas and histories that you create for yourself.” When Bloom was 13, his mother revealed that his father was in fact Colin Stone, a family friend who was made Bloom’s legal guardian after Harry’s death. “So I had an interesting connection with South Africa, and it was great to be there.”

His son Flynn went with him to South Africa. Bloom took him everywhere, even when he was busy bulking up for the role (he put on a stone of muscle to play the Cape Town cop). “There were a lot of stairs in South Africa. I had him on my back in a rucksack and I would run up and down the stairs”, he says.

There is also the small matter of the final part of the Hobbit trilogy that will be released in cinemas at the end of the year and in which Bloom will appear as Legolas one last time. Shot in 2012, there was initial consternation from fans about Legolas’s appearance as the character does not feature in the novel. However the history of Middle Earth and other material surrounding the book makes it clear that Legolas was around long before Bilbo Baggins and the third film promises more of the glittering dynamic between Legolas and his father Thranduil.

It will likely be his last family film for a while. “It’s ironic because I stopped making family films when I became a father and am now starting on grittier roles,” he says. “I got the family things made.” The end of his marriage has brought with it a time for contemplation, about home and work. Does he have any regrets?

“Nothing, no way. There is nothing I regret, it just so happens that I’m 37 and I have my whole career ahead of me. When you have done two trilogies like that, it creates a strong idea of something that is hard to break.”

“It’s the beginning of a second chapter, something different, something new. I have new responsibilities in my life as a father, and I look at my career and can’t wait for new opportunities. I’m looking at doing things that challenge me.”

‘Zulu’ will be released later in the year; ‘The Hobbit: There and Back Again’ will be released on 12 December

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker