|January 13, 1977|
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Born Orlando Jonathan Blanchard Bloom in Canterbury, Kent, England on Jan. 13, 1977, he was the son of Sonia Constance Josephine Copeland and Harry Saul Bloom, a noted Jewish South African-born lawyer and anti-Apartheid novelist. Nine years after Harry Bloom's death in 1981, however, the 13-year-old Bloom was told that his biological father was, in fact, a longtime family friend named Colin Stone. Stone, the principal at Canterbury's Concorde International language school, had been asked by Harry Bloom to raise Orlando shortly before his death. It was a charge he gladly accepted and years later whenever Bloom was asked about his unconventional upbringing, he casually replied, "Show me a family and I'll show you an unusual story." In interviews, the actor would warmly refer to both men as his father. Despite his struggles with dyslexia, Bloom progressed through his studies at The King's School and St. Edmunds in Canterbury, pursuing such extracurricular activities as sculpting and drama. In 1993, Bloom relocated to London to study at Fine Arts College prior to joining the National Isa Youth Theatre for two seasons. This opened the door for a scholarship to train with the prestigious British American Drama Academy, where Bloom prepared for his professional debut.
Auditioning for small roles on television, Bloom initially landed bit parts on programs like the medical drama "Casualty" (BBC, 1986- ) and the opening season of the detective series "Midsomer Murders" (BBC, 1997- ). That same year, he made his feature film debut in a small part as a homosexual prostitute in the historical biopic "Wilde" (1997), starring Stephen Fry as Victorian England's revered man of words and wit. Bloom continued his dramatic training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and while there in 1998, he suffered a traumatic back injury after falling three stories from a rooftop. The damage was so severe that it was thought Bloom would be paralyzed, but after extensive surgery, he made a complete recovery. Immediately after graduating from Guildhall, Bloom auditioned for New Zealand director Peter Jackson's ambitious film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings novel trilogy. With a film planned for each of the books, Bloom was cast as the dashing elvish prince Legolas, whose physical abilities and prowess with a bow made him an invaluable addition to the rag tag group of humans, dwarves and hobbits on a mission to destroy a powerful, magic ring. "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001), which placed the young actor alongside such powerhouse performers as Sir Ian McKellan, Viggo Mortensen and Cate Blanchett, made Bloom a movie star and a bona fide heartthrob, seemingly overnight.
In and around his duties with Jackson and the crew in New Zealand, Bloom also managed to make time for a supporting role in acclaimed director Ridley Scott's fact-based war drama "Black Hawk Down" (2001). In a bit of art-imitating-life irony, Bloom's character of PFC Todd Blackburn breaks his back after a fall from a moving helicopter. The now very much in-demand actor soon returned as Legolas for Jackson's harrowing second installment of the trilogy, "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" (2002) in which one breathtaking battle scene concluded with Bloom planting his feet on his shield and "surfing" down a flight of stairs while firing arrows into a horde of ghoulish enemies. Bloom officially went from up-and-comer to superstar the following year with major roles in three films. After a costarring turn alongside Heath Ledger, who portrayed the Australian outlaw folk hero "Ned Kelly" (2003), Bloom appeared opposite Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley in the swashbuckling pirate adventure "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl" (2003). Loosely based on the venerable ride at the Disneyland theme park and shepherded by mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, the film surprised industry watchers, critics and fans alike when it became one of the biggest box-office smashes of the previous decade. And while Bloom's relatively thankless role as the earnest Will Turner was overshadowed by Depp's unhinged embodiment of Captain Jack Sparrow, there was no denying that he was on a career roll of monumental proportions.
As if to end the year with an exclamation point, Bloom and company closed out the astonishingly successful trilogy with the Academy Award-wining "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003). The following year, the actor starred in "The Calcium Kid" (2004), a lightweight English mockumentary in which Bloom played a milkman-turned-boxer. Made prior to the "Rings" trilogy, it saw no stateside theatrical screenings before being released on DVD. The ensemble drama "Haven" (2004), starring Bloom, Zoë Saldana and Bill Paxton, gave the young star his first producer's credit, but little box-office attention. More heavily promoted was Wolfgang Petersen's big-budget Homerian epic "Troy" (2004), where his vain and cowardly character of Paris cast him in a decidedly un-heroic light for a change. Unfortunately, neither that film nor his reteaming with director Ridley Scott for the lead role in the massively budgeted historical adventure "Kingdom of Heaven" (2005) attracted a fraction of the audience his "Rings" and "Pirates" movies had delivered. Truth be told, it was Bloom's personal life that had brought him the most press over the preceding two years. As one of Hollywood's most eligible bachelors, the actor and his equally attractive American actress girlfriend Kate Bosworth were the focus of every tabloid magazine throughout their on again/off again relationship until it ended in 2005.
Later that year Bloom appeared opposite Kirsten Dunst as a downcast American attempting to reconnect with his family and roots in Cameron Crowe's critically maligned "Elizabethtown" (2005). Try as he might, Bloom seemed unable to recapture the success he had enjoyed just a few years earlier. Then came the inevitable "Pirates" sequel, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (2006) and Bloom's fortunes were on the rise again. Though pilloried by critics for its overblown production and unnecessarily baffling storyline, "Dead Man's Chest" surpassed its predecessor in terms of ticket sales and allowed Bloom to once more show off his knack for action scenes, particularly in one gravity-defying fight sequence atop a rolling water wheel. The actor enjoyed a momentary break from big-budget flights of fancy with his self-deprecating cameo as an impossibly vain version of himself on Ricky Gervais' comedy series "Extras" (HBO, 2005- ) that same year. Soon enough, he was back to swordplay and high seas adventure for another blockbuster, "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (2007), which found Bloom, Knightley and their motley crew rescuing Captain Jack from Davy Jones's Locker and gathering a band of cutthroats to battle the villainous East India Trading Company at the very edge of the globe.
After a two-year absence from screens, Bloom briefly resurfaced in a segment of the Big Apple anthology "New York, I Love You" (2009) alongside co-star Christina Ricci. Once more, his life received more press than his work when Bloom became just one of several celebrities robbed by Hollywood's infamous "Bling Ring," a group of teenage thieves who specifically targeted young stars, breaking into their homes and stealing an estimated $3 million worth of clothes and jewelry over a year-long period. Thankfully, a majority of the items stolen from Bloom and his girlfriend, model Miranda Kerr, were returned after the ringleaders of the group were caught and later sentenced to four years in prison. Not long after playing a small-town police officer in the indie dramedy "Main Street" (2010), Bloom married Kerr in an unpublicized, private ceremony and by the following year, they welcomed a son, Flynn. Bloom next executive produced and starred in the thriller "The Good Doctor" (2011) as the eponymous physician whose crippling self-esteem issues lead him to deadly extremes in an effort to keep a young patient under his care. Later that year, he was seen as the duplicitous courtier The Duke of Buckingham in B-movie auteur Paul W.S. Anderson's garish steampunk reimagining of Dumas' 17th-century swashbuckler "The Three Musketeers" (2011). Fans across the world rejoiced at the announcement that Bloom would reprise the role of Legolas for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012), Peter Jackson's return to Middle-earth and adapted from Tolkien's first published novel.
By Bryce Coleman