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Pirates of the Caribbean - Johnny's been a bit of a guideline for me really, as a young actor

Compiled by: Jack Foley

ORLANDO Bloom has come a long way fast. Three years ago, he was a little known British actor, with a small part in the film Wilde to his name; yet now, he is rapidly earning a place for himself on the Hollywood A-list, following roles in some of the biggest movies around.

In 2001, Bloom emerged as one of the stars of Ridley Scott’s gripping military drama, Black Hawk Down, while also winning the hearts of many as Legolas, in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

And this Summer, he is being compared with a young Errol Flynn, for his swashbuckling performance alongside Johnny Depp, in Box Office hit, Pirates of the Caribbean - a role which has merely served to confirm his status as one of Hollywood’s brightest young stars.

Speaking at a London press conference for the latter movie, held at the Dorchester Hotel, Bloom attributed much of his success to a certain amount of luck, and timing.

"It’s opportunity as well, isn’t it," he told me. "Having trained at school, I know that I was in a class of incredibly talented actors and actresses, it’s just whether or not they get to the opportunity to show it.

"Certainly, the opportunities for both of us [co-star, Keira Knightley] came early on and getting it such early doors means you can move from there."

And Bloom is certainly moving on, with a starring role alongside Brad Pitt and Eric Bana, in the epic Troy, next up for the charming 26-year-old.

But for the moment, he is content to talk about his role in Gore Verbinski’s swashbuckler, which has confounded the critics, and the ‘curse’ surrounding the pirate movie genre, to become one of the most successful blockbusters of the year.

Bloom stars as Will Turner, an aspiring swordsmith, who is forced to team up with Depp’s rogue sailor to rescue a childhood sweetheart from the clutches of a cursed group of pirates.

Yet he almost had to pass on the part, due to filming commitments on another, smaller project.

"Initially, I was signed up to do the Calcium Kid, a small British film, which was being directed by a friend, so I’d made a commitment to him and I didn’t want to let him down," he explained.

"So when I got the script for Pirates of the Caribbean, I sort of didn’t want to tempt myself with the idea of getting behind something that I didn’t think I was going to be able to do.

"But I was in Australia at the time, working on Ned Kelly, and Geoffrey Rush was really excited about going on to do Pirates, and was talking about it, and felt there was a great role in this and told me to just read it, if nothing else.

"Jerry Bruckheimer [who serves as producer] had mentioned this to me while we were in Japan on a press junket one time, even as far back as Black Hawk Down, but because of the other obligation, I just didn’t want to let him down.


"But I’m very grateful and thankful to say that it did work out, because it couldn’t have been a more fun experience."

It is another example of the luck which has surrounded much of Bloom’s career, particularly given that there were fears the star would not be able to walk again, following an accident while studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Bloom fell three stories from a rooftop terrace, and broke his back, prompting very real fears that he would be permanently paralysed. But he quickly recovered and has even attributed the experience to helping him secure the roll in Black Hawk Down, in which he played a soldier who broke his back in a fall.

The luck element was even apparent when being cast as Legolas in Lord of the Rings, given that he had initially auditioned for the role of Faramir.

Yet he has grasped his opportunities and appears genuinely keen to learn from the opportunity to work with some of the most established stars in the industry.

His role in Pirates of the Caribbean, for instance, has helped him to realise another ambition… that of working alongside Johnny Depp.

"Johnny’s been a bit of a guideline for me really, as a young actor, and probably every one in my generation," he said, paying tribute to the star for the way in which he dared to create such an eccentric character as Jack Sparrow - Bloom’s reluctant partner.

"His character didn’t really read like that on the page, not to me anyway; not that sort of drunken sea-legged, Keith Richards number that he pulled out from the black corners of his mind.

"But he’s so courageous as an actor. I mean if you learn anything, and this goes for Geoffrey Rush, who is an award-winning actor, it just seemed like he had freedom tattooed across his forehead with that hat.

"I just think that, as a young actor, I felt really privileged to see how he goes about creating a character, and was really taken with the way he just puts himself out there, because it could quite easily not have worked… but it never sort of doesn’t; it always works with Johnny."

It is this same sort of bravery that Bloom will now be hoping to use in furthering his own career, although with several big projects already on the horizon (not to mention the concluding part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy this December), it seems unlikely that the actor will be walking the plank just yet in terms of his career.

In fact, with the Jolly Roger riding high among this year’s blockbusters, there is already talk of a Pirates of the Caribbean sequel, with Bruckheimer announcing his intention to cast the same team at the same London press conference.

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