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Feature: Orlando Bloom

The Dark Side of the Bloom

Orlando Bloom in Elizabethtown

He’s currently one of Hollywood’s hottest stars but things haven’t always gone so well for him. We examine the difficult past that has driven Orlando on to great things…

Olando Bloom has, over a space of just over five years, carved out a career for himself that is the envy of every young actor in Hollywood. From his humble beginnings studying drama in his home town of Canterbury, Kent, Bloom has gone on to appear in some of the most financially successful and culturally significant movies of all time. As Legolas the Elf in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Orlando wowed movie-goers, not only his willowy good looks, but his ability to perform so well as part of an ensemble cast.

In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Orlando again showed that he could perform admirably next to acting heavyweights, letting them take the more showy roles while he provided the calm, heroic centre of the film, as blacksmith turned hero Will Turner. As Orlando’s fame has grown, directors have started to appreciate the young man’s talents and have begun to cast him as the leading man in their films. This year saw Orlando appearing as Balian, a knight of the Crusades, in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven.

Orlando is now appearing in Elizabethtown a film by Cameron Crowe, the director of the Tom Cruise hit Jerry Maguire. In Crowe’s film Orlando plays Drew Baylor, a suicidal businessman whose life is changed forever when he meets Claire Colburn (Kirsten Dunst) on the way to his fathers funeral. Cameron Crowe, when asked why he chose Orlando for the role, said recently “…I think that Orlando, having been through a lot of pain early in his life, is used to that kind of pain – he lives with that kind of pain.”

But Orlando Bloom has been through his fair share of dark times and it does seem likely that these negative experiences might be the reason that he has chosen such challenging projects. Orlando seems keen to not only stretch his acting muscles, but to confront some of his own personal demons by taking on roles that resonate with his own personal experiences and his troubled family history.

Although Orlando led a comfortable existence growing up in Canterbury, a family secret threatened to ruin his idyllic life. Orlando’s father, Harry, had died when he was just four years old, leaving his mother to bring him up alone. Losing Harry was extremely traumatic, but the young Orlando comforted himself by learning all he could about his father, a man who was a hero not just to his son but also to thousands of South Africans.

Harry Bloom spent much of his life battling the South African government’s attempt to racially segregate people in the country. His anti-apartheid stance had seen him work alongside the likes of Nelson Mandela, but Harry Bloom was most famous of all for the novels he wrote. Books such as Episode and Whittaker’s Wife highlighted the horrors of persecution and while they did much to spread the word about the evil of apartheid, they also led to Bloom being persecuted by the South African government and eventually imprisoned for three months. Harry decided to leave Africa in 1963 when he was released from prison and to move to England.

Having always been very proud of his late father’s deeds, Orlando was deeply shocked when he was told at the age of 13 that Harry Bloom was not actually his biological father.

Find out more about Orlando Bloom's path to Hollywood in
Movie Idols #38

Photo © Paramount Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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Movie Idols #38, see below for ordering options
Movie Idols #38
November 2005
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