We talk to the Elven star of the latest HOBBIT film…
This week, Legolas fires his last arrow in THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES, and for Orlando Bloom, the feeling must be a strange one. Movies.ie caught up with Bloom recently to find out how he feels now that the franchise is coming to an end, and whether he will ever return to New Zealand.
How does it feel now that your time on Peter Jackson’s Tolkien films is coming to an end?
Orlando Bloom: I guess it’s the end of a very long chapter. It’s happy/sad. In a way, personally for me, it has been a career defining character, a career defining role and the opportunity to have come back and play him in THE HOBBIT has been a real privilege in many ways. It was a great opportunity, because in many ways I got to create a back story for a character that goes on to be the ‘Lone Elf’ in THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. So you see who he is and you see, through Legolas’ eyes, the history of the Elves and why he is that guy in THE LORD OF THE RINGS. As Tolkien says; the Elves of Mirkwood are less wise and more dangerous. For me, it’s been a lot of fun to play that backs tory through.
Is it hard to say goodbye?
OB: Of course, in many ways New Zealand and that part of the world has been a really big part of my life and it’s sad to see it come to a close. Like I said though, it’s been an amazing gift.
Do you feel connected with New Zealand now?
OB: New Zealand’s been a huge part of my life. I spent more time there in the last 15 years than anywhere else… Almost. It was a massive part of my formative years as well; moving to New Zealand when I was 21, I turned 22 in New Zealand… it was a really special time. The culture, the people, the landscape… There is an inherent wisdom to that country, to those people. They’re not caught up in stuff, they don’t seem to be on the same global race. It’s quite reassuring to go back and see how remarkably unchanged it was. It became home away from home for me. I feel very comfortable there.
There seems to be enough of Tolkien’s material to facilitate a return to Middle Earth in the future. Would you be interested in returning again?
OB: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s gonna happen. I think it’s done what it needed to do. It’s been a great journey and I think everyone feels that.
You have got older and wiser while making this franchise, but for your character, the journey has been in the other direction. Did you try and incorporate that into THE HOBBIT?
OB: I think there was a bit more stubbornness and recklessness that was written into the character, so I have really been responding to the writing; that was the opportunity in coming to play Legolas in THE HOBBIT; he’s so well depicted in THE LORD OF THE RINGS, it’s clear who he is and what his purpose is and because he’s not written into THE HOBBIT, but in theory he would be there, we were able to create a bit of a back story. That was the opportunity, and that was what we created.
Having worked with him for such a long time, how do you feel Peter Jackson has changed over the years?
OB: He’s really quite unchanged. He’s still the same fan of the worlds and he’s very much himself, so he is quite unchanged in a very reassuring sense. He’s really maintained his sense of self, which I think is a tribute to his character. He’s maintained himself, which is very reassuring. He’s obviously advanced in terms of a director, he’s always been a bit cutting edge in terms of THE LORD OF THE RINGS; the way those films were shot, the technologies that were used at the time. I think it’s true to say that WETA is also a cutting edge company. It’s been a part of making some of the other biggest films that are out there, so he’s still on the forefront of that stuff. He likes to try new things and be on the forefront of movie making.
How about in terms of writing and directing…?
OB: It’s a very interesting creative process, when you’re working with Peter and Fran. We sit down at a table and we discuss the scenes; a lot of things can come out of that. It’s also slightly chaotic; he’s never very straightforward. I think that’s the way they work though; it’s almost like a very big student movie; like a huge independent film. It doesn’t feel like a giant studio movie. He runs to the beat of his own drum.
How does that feel then, for you as an actor?
OB: He’s pretty clear about what he wants. In a way, I think you’ve been cast to bring the inherent aspects of the character to the table, and them discussions happen. He’s definitely the leader of the ship. There are conversations, but it’s definitely Peter’s vision, and Fran and Phillipa’s writing. It’s not like an improvised piece.
What was it like to have Andy Serkis as second unit director on THE HOBBIT films?
OB: Amazing. He’s wonderful. He’s just a great actor, but he’s also a wonderful human being, he really knows how to communicate, as an actor, to actors; as a director to actors. He’s just wonderful. I couldn’t speak more highly of that man. I’d love to work with him on a feature.
You have THE LORD OF THE RINGS and PIRATES OF THE CARRIBBEAN behind you, how big is the desire to do something completely different now?
OB: I think part of my desire to go on Broadway and do something completely different with ROMEO & JULIET was to have that experience. Working with Forrest Whittaker on a movie like ZULU, which was a small violent little South African film. It was a desire to do that sort of stuff… Working on THE HOBBIT was a great experience. I’m in less of a hurry, I want to be selective. I have a child, I have other responsibilities. There’s nowhere I’m happier than being on set and working, developing a character, but it also has to be for the right things.
Can you talk about how you moved into producing movies?
OB: I came on to executive produce a film called THE GREASY HANDS PREACHERS, which was an opportunity I was quite passionate about. I am quite passionate about motorbikes; it’s been a passion since I was a kid. It’s not something that I have been very vocal about. The film is a documentary, and two of the bike builders in the film are friends of mine, and people I’ve worked with, so when it came to releasing the film they wanted some help with raising awareness of the film. They asked me to have a look at it and asked if I would be involved with helping for the release. I was very happy to because I love the movie and I love the message of the movie, which is quite simple.
There was a rumour that you were going back to the PIRATES OF THE CARRIBBEAN franchise. Is there any truth to that?
OB: I don’t know. I have no idea. Never say never. Working with Johnny [Depp] and Gore [Verbinski] was really a gift, it was amazing and if they said ‘we have got something and it’s going to be really different’… When you have a child and your life moves forward, and you realise that these movies have a big impact on kids’ lives… I’m open to a lot of different things. Time moves on and you have a larger perspective of things as you get older and different priorities. There have been some negotiations, and I think something’s happening there, but I don’t know.
THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES is released in Irish cinemas on December 12th 2014
Words: Brogen Hayes