Bloom’s back in the ring

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - NEALA JOHN­SON

IT WAS late 1999 that Or­lando Bloom fi rst fl ew into Wellington, pulled on a blonde wig and picked up a bow and ar­row. And it was early 2003 that the young English ac­tor fi lmed what he prob­a­bly thought were his fi nal scenes as war­rior elf Le­go­las in the Lord of the Rings tril­ogy, as di­rec­tor Peter Jack­son shot some last- minute pick- ups for The Re­turn of the King.

Af­ter LOTR, Bloom was hot prop­erty, go­ing on to Pi­rates of the Caribbean, King­dom of Heaven, Troy, El­iz­a­beth­town, The Three Mus­ke­teers and a well- doc­u­mented mar­riage with Aus­tralian model Mi­randa Kerr.

And de­spite ev­ery good in­ten­tion, Bloom never re­turned to New Zealand un­til the in­vite came from Jack­son to reprise the role of Le­go­las in The Hob­bit tril­ogy.

Which is where we fi nd him on this day in late 2011: back at the same stu­dios fi lm­ing the very mo­ment Le­go­las re­turns to the screen in The Hob­bit: The Deso­la­tion of Smaug, train­ing his bow and ar­row on a bunch of un­sus­pect­ing dwarves.

The dwarves, con­tin­u­ing their voy­age from An Un­ex­pected Jour­ney, have stum­bled into the elves’ home ter­ri­tory of Mirk­wood. Le­go­las and Co. step in to res­cue the lit­tle guys from at­tack­ing spiders. ( Even though, as Bloom later points out, Le­go­las thinks dwarves are “dis­gust­ing”.)

As Le­go­las dis­penses with another creepy crawly, Jack­son calls cut. Bloom shakes out the elf and re­turns to re­al­ity.

The ac­tor ad­mits he’s found slip­ping into the same old cos­tume in the same old town “re­ally weird” but also “amaz­ing”.

“I hadn’t been back in 10 years; I re­ally imag­ined that I would be, but I just got so busy that I didn’t make it. But when I did come back, it was just the same. It’s so won­der­ful to be back some­where and think, while the rest of the world can go askew in some places, Wellington, New Zealand main­tains its calm.”

“And the girls of Wellington are thrilled to have you back, Orly!” Jack­son in­ter­jects.

“My wife and child are thrilled to be here,” Bloom dead­pans, be­fore break­ing into a laugh.

“Oh yes,” nods Jack­son, “he’s got a wife now so, sh­hhh! Don’t talk about the old days; the wild, wild days.”

“Well, I can dream,” Bloom sighs dra­mat­i­cally. “Mem­o­ries!”

( In a case of bad tim­ing for the girls of Wellington, Bloom and Kerr offi cially an­nounced their sep­a­ra­tion in late Oc­to­ber of this year not long af­ter shoot­ing on The Hob­bit had fi nished.)

Even with all that has come and gone be­tween the two trilo­gies, the now 36- year- old Bloom reck­ons the minute he stepped back into Mid­dle- Earth “it was like it never stopped”.

“It lit­er­ally feels like we’re still go­ing, doesn’t it?” Jack­son agreed. “It doesn’t feel like 10 years has gone by. Lit­er­ally, noth­ing has changed. There’s no at­ti­tude. Orly’s ex­actly the same as he was 10 years ago.”

Bloom of­fers some­thing cheeky about the stu­dios be­ing sound­proofed now, but other than that agrees whole­heart­edly with his di­rec­tor.

“It’s very re­as­sur­ing, ac­tu­ally, to come back to some­thing af­ter that much time and be like, ‘ Wow, it still ex­ists’. It still has the same in­tegrity and spirit. And Pete’s still as mad as ever, in the best way pos­si­ble.”

When the of­fer was ex­tended to re­turn for The Hob­bit, Bloom had no hes­i­ta­tion.

“I felt hon­oured that I was be­ing thought of to come back into the world be­cause Le­go­las is not writ­ten in The Hob­bit book, but it’s per­fectly fea­si­ble that he would be within the world.”

Be­sides that lit­tle not- in- the- book tech­ni­cal­ity, the only other com­pli­ca­tion was that The Hob­bit is a pre­quel, mean­ing Le­go­las should be 60 years younger than he was dur­ing the events of LOTR.

“For­tu­nately, Orly doesn’t look as if he’s aged a day,” Jack­son said. “Apart from a lit­tle ex­tra chin,” Bloom grins. “We can do amaz­ing cos­metic surgery with com­put­ers th­ese days,” of­fers Jack­son.

“I don’t know,” says Bloom, shak­ing his head. “In 3D, that chin is re­ally gunna jut out.” THE HOB­BIT: THE DESO­LA­TION OF SMAUG

Now show­ing Vil­lage and State cine­mas

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