Bloom’s back in the ring
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