Two roles under one belt and injuries to rival Jackie Chan.
If the princely warrior Legolas in Peter Jackson's eagerly anticipated December movie Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring seems younger than his 2,931 years, it's either because elves ar immortal, or because British newcomer Orlando Bloom, who portrays the ancient warrior, was only 22 when filming began.
As with J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy of novels, Fellowship is only the first of three movies which tell the epic story of a merry band of adventures who set out to relive their fantasy land, Middle-Earth, of a great evil. All three installments were shot simultaneously, in New Zealand, and will be released at one year intervals. The unusual production schedule required Bloom and other cast members to remain down under for nearly a year and a half. Even so, Bloom, now 24, has managed to wrap a second role - in another much-awaited project, Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down, due in 2002
HENRY CABOT BECK: What was it like being cash as Legolas, such an important role in a production this enormous?
ORLANDO BLOOM: It was like winning the lottery. I mean, imagine being flown to this amazing country and being taught how to shoot a bow and arrow, learn to ride horses and study swordplay - it was sick! I was pinching myself. Not until I'd filmed a few scenes did I finally believe it was actually happening.
HCB: and it's your first major part in a picture. Were you at all intimidated?
OB: you know, Tolkien created elves to be these perfect beings, to bring the world forward. It's quote a responsibility, trying to take that to the screen. And, of course, people who have read the novels have invested so much love into these characters. Also, can you imagine for me, coming out of drama school, being thrown into a group of actors like Ian McKellen, Ian Holm and Christopher Leeyes, it was incredibly daunting.
HCB: I understand you had to undergo some fairly rigorous training for the part.
OB: I was trained in archery first, as it's Legolas' weapon of choice. I had to be petty swift with it - and I found that I had a bit of a knack for it, to where I was shooting paper plates out o the sky, which is quite cool. [laughs]
And I did some pretty wicked stuff on horseback, like in the old cowboy-and-Indian movies, where I would let go of the reigns and shoot my bow and arrow. I mean, it really was insane what I had to do, but it was so much fun and I had real faith in my horse, though I did fall off him once and broke my rib. That was one of my war wounds for the movie.
I'm rather accident-prone, I have to admit. I've broken my back, my ribs, my nose, both my legs, my arm, my wrist, a finger and a toe and cracked my skull three times.
HCB: did all that happen during the filming?!
OB: No, no [laughs] Over the course of my 24 years. I've slowed down recently, but I was a bit mad in my youth. About four years ago I broke my back and three ribs falling out of a window.
HCB: doesn't something similar happen to you in Black Hawk Down
OB: yeah. The movie's about a bunch of U.S. army rangers in Somalia and, in the beginning, my character falls about 70 feet from a helicopter, breaks his back and numerous other parts of his body, and then has to get taken to safety on a convoy. It's part of the ranger creed, you know: "You never leave a man behind."
HCB: speaking of loyalty, did you bring a bit of Legolas home with you?
OB: I hope so. I hope I carry a part of him with me forever. He's a special, special character and, or course, my first. I'm never going to let go of him.