In Bloom Orlando is back - by Lily Lawson
Orlando Bloom is noticeably affable and open throughout our chat today. In a simple dark T-shirt and jeans, his sallow warm complexion gives the impression of a Hollywood hunk half his 40 years. And his disarming, grounded nature belies his movie star credentials. Until the subject of ‘paddle-boarding’ comes into play. Bloom squirms in his seat. “Please, let’s not go down that road today, I’m just, yeah,” says the actor, visibly alarmed.
It’s not the specific sport that’s vexed the actor but rather his complete lack of clothing with then girlfriend, the popstar Katy Perry, which nearly broke the internet. Bloom is failing to see the funny side anymore and his publicist, circling our conversation, immediately steers our talk from such lewd topics and towards more savoury conversation, like his new movies, Unlocked, a low-budget terrorist thriller and Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge which sees Orlando resume his career-defining performance as dashing Will Turner in the Disney juggernaut.
Ten years since his last appearance in the swashbuckling adventure, Bloom and on-screen love Keira Knightley reunite to guide their son, Henry (Brenton Thwaites) is his new adventures on the high seas alongside Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow. And while Bloom insists his involvement in the instalment amounts to a small few scenes, fans of the heartthrob are chomping to see their favourite back, especially after a number of years in Tinseltown wilderness. So where was Orlando and what inspired this break away from the big screen?
Turns out, family, namely his six-year-old son Flynn with former wife, supermodel Miranda Kerr, was priority, particularly during and after their divorce. The dedicated father chats about his relationship with his son and why he needed to concentrate on the youngster. Bloom also talks about his phenomenal start in Hollywood, why it took its toll on his confidence, and why Bond is the ultimate goal.
When you watch a movie like Unlocked, with its central themes of terrorism, it feels scarily close to home given what’s happening today.
That’s what struck me, the harsh reality attached to this script, sadly, in the current climate we’re living in. We shot this two years [ago] and even since then, it’s shocking how much more relevant this story is in terms of our everyday existence. In the last two years, look at the atrocities, at the acts of carnage, Paris, Nice, Westminster, it goes on. It’s something so terrible and so fundamentally part of our day to day.
But when I say that, I also grew up taking the Tube, and we lived through the IRA bomb scares, they happened all the time. You were getting taken off the Tube, evacuated, so it’s not totally alien to me, there was tension then, and it’s here now. Obviously the 7/7 attacks are still very much in the mind of Londoners; you can’t help but be reminded. But you can’t allow it to rule your life; we may as well give up, otherwise.
Are you more mindful of such dangers, being a father?
I think now, especially that I’m a dad… I think it’s universal for all parents. If we’re in a busy public place, if we’re on the bus, if we’re in the park, on Oxford Street, it might flash across my mind for an instant, are we vulnerable? Where’s our escape? Yeah, it’s weird.
But like I said, you can’t be worried all the time. I don’t want to ever pass my fears down to him; kids are like sponges, they absorb so much more than we realise. I don’t want him to be scared. You try and keep a balance, don’t you?
You’re well known for your good guy roles. Jack is somewhere on the spectrum of goodie and baddie, would you agree?
He’s right there, in the middle. Right there between a hero and a rogue and a blatant sociopath. That’s just makes it more fun doesn’t it? I like delving in to the dark side, the complexities, that light and shade, it’s far more interesting for me as an actor than a straight-laced, buttoned down, starchy MI5 agent with an unblemished moral code and this emotionless front. We’ve seen that before countless times, it gets a bit boring.
So Michael [Apted] allowed me to make changes, decipher Jack as I saw him, allowed me to investigate his background, as I saw it. You know, he was ex-military, a little PTSD, done some time behind bars – [it] mixes up to produce a man on the periphery of society, very much a lone operator; adherence to societal preferences, you know, isn’t his MO.
It kind of sounds like you’re referring to Bond there, when you say starchy MI5 agent.
Is he MI5? MI6 [laughs].
Your name has been bandied around as a replacement for Daniel Craig. How do you fancy your chance?
I don’t know. I feel like there’s been all this talk about Tom Hardy and Tom Hiddleston and all that. Is my name being bandied about?
Maybe not as much as them, but it’s there.
Why am I not in the running for James Bond? I’m quite insulted by that [laughs].
Would you actually be interested?
Yeah [laughs]. I’m game, I’m on it. Tell me who to talk to [laughs].
We’re going to see you soon again as Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean, some may argue equally as iconic as Bond – was there any hesitation on your part to come back after ten years?
There was no way I could ever turn that down. What kind of idiot would that make me [laughs]?
Much of the plot is being kept under wraps, but what can you tell me about Will’s involvement?
I’m at pains to convey my short scenes in this movie [laughs]. Only at the beginning and the end. I fear there’s this misconception that I’m central throughout but that’s not the case. I was only on it for a few days, down on this huge, epic set. It was never going to be a central role. They asked, “Would you come back to introduce your son?” who Brenton plays and I loved that idea of passing the torch to the next generation who goes off on his own adventure. I sort of bookend the action.
Keira is back too for the reunion?
I’m glad that’s out there [laughs]. I was worried I’d give it away. Yes, Keira’s back. What a brilliant reunion, I couldn’t do it without her and I’m so glad that’s out there now, that everyone knows, because hers was the big secret.
I can’t say what she does in it, I can’t really say much in general. But I’ve seen it and I’m very happy to confirm, it’s … fantastic.
Don’t you say that about all your films?
Well, sometimes your expectations aren’t necessarily met. I’ve been pretty lucky, but yeah, it happens [laughs]. No, we’ve gone right back to the start, back to the roots, back to what made [Pirates] so special 15 years ago. The special effects took precedent, stole focus, in a way, with the subsequent chapters, so we’re back to story front and centre, what the Pirates movies are made of. A very similar narrative to the first, which to me, [was] controversial, but I thought it was the best of the bunch. And hopefully this one will compete [laughs]. I’m pretty sure it will…
I’m sure Flynn’s excited to see Dad as a pirate?
He loves these films, he loves them. Dad’s a pirate, it implodes his mind [laughs]. Big fan. When we went to get his first Lego, he was laser beamed on the pirate ship. No fighter planes, no spaceships, it was a pirate ship for him. So you know what, there was never any question, if they wanted me back, if they wanted Will Turner back, for a multitude of reasons but purely for the fact that I know he would love it, I was all in.
When I’m deciding what to do next, I now tend to think, would Flynn like to see this, would he enjoy it? That’s become a more present consideration than before. And I think in certain ways, I get more excited, knowing I’m working on something he’ll love. There’s a real kick in that.
Working on something like Unlocked, a relatively independent movie after Rings and Pirates, is it important for you to step away from the blockbusters?
I think, and this is my theory, I started out in really, really, big … huge films, with massive audience share, and I was still learning. I was cast in Lord of the Rings a couple of days after I left drama school. And that’s a very public spotlight to be under when you’re still unsure of your footing. I feel like my mistakes were clear for the world to see, highlighted by comparisons alongside Viggo Mortensen and Ian McKellen, easily the best actors living and breathing today.
I needed to retreat away from that exposure and work on smaller projects, do theatre. I did some smaller movies, which some were so small, they didn’t even see the light of day [laughs]. But each one of them helped me on this journey and in my craft and that’s … been a huge, huge benefit. I’m so grateful for every one of those opportunities.
I feel I’m better equipped now from those experiences; I hope I’m better at my job. I haven’t done that many movies, if you look at my body of work.
Was that why you took a break for a few years, to focus on different directions?
It’s because of my son, quite honestly. I’ve been focused on him, he’s six years old, he needs his parents around, what’s more important?
There was a period of instability when his mum and I were separating, and we both made conscious choices to be around as much as possible to help that whole transitionary period. That was our responsibility.
And now things have settled nicely, everybody is in a good place, there’s a rock solid security there, and therefore more freedom to explore professionally [than] I have in the past few years. So that’s why I’m taking chances and risks, working in genres and arenas that offer up new challenges.