What the Hell Happened to Orlando Bloom?
Orlando Bloom starred in one of the biggest movie trilogies of all time, and followed it up by starring in another one of the biggest trilogies of all time. He’s worked with Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott, and Cameron Crowe. He was supposed to be the next big thing.
What the hell happened?
Orlando Bloom was born in Canterbury, Kent, England, January 13, 1977. Bloom got his start in television with roles in episodes of Casualty and Midsomer Murders. Bloom made his big screen debut in 1997 before enrolling in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where he studied acting.
Bloom scored a cameo in the English prestige film, Wilde, starring Stephen Fry as the titular Oscar Wilde, a part he was practically born to play. It featured a who’s who of English stars like Jude Law, Michael Sheen, Tom Wilkinson, and Vanessa Redgrave. It follows the life story of writer Oscar Wilde, whose personal life would come to haunt him in less understanding times.
LORD OF THE RINGS: FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (2001)
Bloom basically made a quantum leap (oh boy…) to stardom, landing a role in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s epic fantasy two days before he graduated drama school. Talk about a graduation present. He was originally cast as Faramir, but switched to Legolas. Lucky him.
Nobody knew what a huge hit the LOTR trilogy would be. Peter Jackson had to fight tooth and nail with studios, before New Line said he could make a trilogy. What came from it is one of the only film trilogies that can be compared with Star Wars. It became a cultural phenomenon.
You can argue whether or not Jackson’s adaptation is faithful (hint: it’s not. Tolkein writing has more in common with the Encyclopedia Brittanica than it does an action film) but it was a hit with audiences. Using in-camera tricks to keep the budget under $100 mill (a trick Jackson would later forget on every subsequent movie he directed), and lavishly photographing the New Zeland landscape, the film was a smash with critics and racked up close to a billion dollars worldwide. It scored Oscar noms, a rarity for a film of this scale and scope.
If by some miracle you haven’t seen it, the Lord of the Rings is a fantasy saga taking place in middle-earth, where a band of Hobbits, elves, dwarves,wizards, and humans set to destroy an ancient evil that has arisen again. Orlando Bloom’s bleach job and cat-like elf Legolas made him an instant heart-throb with teenage girls everywhere, and made his character a standout in a film of standouts. From drama school to worldwide movie star. Like that.
BLACK HAWK DOWN (2001)
Bloom followed up LOTR with a small role in the star-studded Ridley Scott actioner, Black Hawk Down. Pitting him alongside tons of names (and others who would be names later) Ewan McGregor, Josh Hartnett (future WTHHer), Tom Sizemore, Tom Hardy, Sam Shepard, and Eric Bana.
It follows a (sort of) true story of a helicopter going down in Somalia, and the troops on the ground’s fight for survival among a hostile people, and the subsequent rescue. It serves as Scott’s answer to Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan in that it’s main goal is to show the visceral and unforgiving nature of violence and murder in war. It aims to not blink. However, it’s a bit too slick for it’s own good, and can be a bit “oo-rah ‘merrka” with it’s depiction of patriotism. It did middling business stateside, making a healthy profit overseas even though critics approved by and large of the film.
Bloom scored his part as a soldier who breaks his back. Bloom convinced the casting director he should get the part because he had broken his back twice (this almost derailed his acting career). It worked, but did little to boost anyone’s star status as all the faces of jar-heads in helmets become interchangeable within the film.
LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS (2002)
The second film in the trilogy built on everything that made the first one the success it was. It still had a less than $100 million dollar budget, and inched even closer to the billion dollar threshold than the first film. This has even more spectacular action (which in the books is dismissed in a few pages in favor of songs and poems) and keeps alive the dark middle entry in the trilogy thing going. It’s a wonderful film for anyone that loves movies, fantasy, or action. For my money Viggo Mortenson is the best actor there, and has subsequently proved that. And for anyone that can’t get enough, Jackson released near 4 hour cuts of each of the LOTR trilogy. More critical love, more academy award noms, and more money.
NED KELLY (2003)
The second of his non-LOTR films, and his first misstep. Ned Kelly is a mess of a film starring Heath Ledger as the notorious Australian outlaw. Bloom plays a member of his gang and friend. The movie did not impress critics, and was a bomb, barely making any money worldwide. It’s kind of like the Australian Jesse James, but it didn’t play across the sea. It’s choppy and stilted, and does nothing to make Ledger or Bloom’s life easier, it also wastes the talents of Geoffrey Rush and Naomi Watts.
Next Up – From Trilogy to Trilogy
Posted on February 12, 2014, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged Cameron Crowe, Heath Ledger, hobbit, Johnny Depp, kingdom of heaven, Lord of the Rings, Oliver Stone, Orlando Bloom, Peter Jackson, Pirates of the Caribbean, Ridley Scott, troy. Bookmark the permalink. 98 Comments.