Orlando Bloom is a master at revealing very little about himself. The British heartthrob offers thoughtful, often sensitive, answers to all questions thrown at him, but is careful not to expose any more of himself than necessary. For instance, when asked what his biggest vice is, he takes a moment to think and then replies, “Vintage watches.” When I point out that his collection of 60-plus watches is an awfully G-rated vice, he laughs, knowing I’ve called his bluff. “Believe me, I have plenty more, but I’m not going to share them with you,” he says.
It’s ironic, then, that this sweet star who’s near-Garboesque in his desire for privacy has been catapulted into a stratospheric realm of fame. His name was among the most searched items on Google News last year, second only to that of Paris Hilton. While Hilton may be courting the attention, it seems Bloom has fallen into it. He’s appeared in two of the most successful movie franchises of all time, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Pirates of the Caribbean series, and those two roles alone have made him a household name the world over.
Bloom, 30, is clearly trying to handle all the attention with grace. When I ask if crazed female fans have sneaked into his hotel room, he doesn’t want to discuss it out of sensitivity to the fans who may have done so. “To be honest, I don’t want to share that with you because if I were that person reading this, I’d feel so embarrassed,” he explains. But it’s clear that all the attention is wearing on him. When talk turns to how he’s coping with the paparazzi or trying to have a private life, he sounds weary and a little annoyed. And when I cross the invisible line and ask about rumors that he’s dating Penelope Cruz, there’s a painfully long pause before a terse, “She’s a friend.” When I press him on it, the pause is so long I fear he’s hung up the phone.
On the eve of the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, the avid environmentalist is looking toward venturing into independent “socially relevant” films. He’s ready to move on and shed the costumes. It may be a chance for us to finally see the real Orlando! maybe.
What’s it like to have teenage girls cry hysterically when they see you?
It’s kind of sweet, you know. It’s a very pure and very real reaction, because they just lose it. I’m always amazed and very touched, because it’s an authentic response to a moment. I remember being in Spain during the filming of Kingdom of Heaven. I was just talking to my mum on the phone and halfway through the conversation she asked, “What’s that in the background?” And I was like, “Um, it’s just a few girls screaming….” It was kind of a trip because it was the first time it had been like that. It’s not like that’s my life, though. It’s not like there are people camped outside my house.
What’s the most bizarre interaction you’ve had with a fan?
In New York this girl kind of freaked out at me. I was being let out of a building and the security people were saying, “You’ve got to keep moving! You can’t stop! If you stop we’re going to have chaos in here!” But she got kind of aggressive with me and was really angry. She was like, “I’ve been at every premiere and you never say hello.” And it was funny, I felt really upset. I felt bad for her. So I turned around and went over to her and just gave her a hug and said, “It’s cool. I’m sorry you feel let down or disappointed. But the nature of my life is I can’t necessarily stop every time, and it’s not because I don’t want to.” I think she felt a little better afterward, and so did I. And for me, it actually shed a little light on the other side of the coin.
So many celebs love New York because they can go about their daily lives without being bothered. Is it the same in London?
I think New Yorkers probably think they’re too cool for school, which I love. It’s like London in that way; people don’t tend to jump down your throat.
But the British paparazzi are legendary. Do you get harassed?
What are you going to do? It’s part of the job.
Which are worse, tabloids or bloggers?
What’s a blogger?
Right. It’s all the same thing. It’s sad to me that the celebrity culture has taken over in such a way that it overshadows a lot of what this industry is — or should be — about. It feels like it’s all about celebrity and fame and less about talent and ability.
I heard there’s actually an imposter “Orlando” on MySpace. Have you checked out his site?
I heard about him in a really weird way. This guy approached me in my hometown and said something like, “I’m Angel.” He had this mad look in his eye. I was like, “You’re who? That’s a funny name for a guy.” And he said, “I’m four down on MySpace. You’re on MySpace, right?” And I said, “I don’t even know what it is!” I’m not on it. So anyone who’s pretending to be me, I hope he’s getting laid a lot.
Where would you like to be in 10 years?
I definitely see myself acting and maybe doing some producing. I’d love to have a family of my own, children…. I really do want to live that life.
Is it hard for you to date when you’re the focus of so much attention?
Yeah, it is. It just kills the romance of the initial moment. I grew up predominantly with my mother and my sister, so I’m comfortable in the presence of women. I have a lot of female friends, and I can’t step outside with any of them without being linked to them in some form or another. It’s sort of annoying, but what can you do?
So, are you dating Penelope Cruz?
[Pause] She’s a friend of mine.
So you’re not dating?
[Very, very long pause] OK, so what’s your next question?
This is your third film playing pirate Will Turner. How has the role affected you?
It’s rubbed off on me a little bit. It’s taken up the majority of my mid- to late 20s, and informed many aspects of my life and who I am. We started doing a film about pirates years ago and no one knew that it was going to take off the way it has. The success of the movie has brought good and bad things to my life. Mostly good things, obviously, but it locks you into a certain world you wouldn’t necessarily have expected.
Like what? Being considered a heartthrob?
Yeah, being a “heartthrob” and being in huge blockbusters. I’ve found myself in a lot of big movies, and obviously those were choices I made, parts I auditioned for and am really excited about. But I feel I’m at a point where I want to make decisions based on character and authentic worlds. I want roles that can reflect the man and the actor I’m growing into instead of the actor I’ve been.
Do you get a little tired of playing the same character when you do so many sequels?
Yeah. I mean, look — when I tell you I’ve spent the majority of my 20’s working on one character, I mean it’s been great. I’ve loved it. The movies’ success has afforded me a great life and the potential for more work. But I also want to mix it up. It’s time to move on.