hen my agent told me that I had the job, I
was screaming down the phone! Oh my God - I was totally over-excited!" recalls Orlando Bloom, who plays elf warrior Legolas Greenleaf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. "Not only was it my first [big] job, but it's THE anticipated movie of the year! I just couldn't believe my luck!"
  But it was much more than luck that propelled the 25-year old, British born actor into the spotlight. Prior to his turn as the best-looking elf to hit the big screen (sorry Liv), Bloom had a small role as 'Rentboy' in Wilde and had appeared in the British soap opera, Casualty.
  But his career quickly took an upswing after becoming one of the Fellowship in the The Lord of the Rings.
  "I'd read the books as a 14-year-old but didn't finish them because
I became distracted by girls and sport," he laughs. "But I picked them up again when the casting began and read them while I was in New Zealand."
  As you can imagine, Bloom was intimidated by an impressive cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, and Elijah Wood. Not only that, but he also had to learn horseback riding, sword fighting, archery, and master the language
of Elvish. "My first line of dialogue in the [first] movie is in Elvish, and believe me, that's a hard thing to get your mouth around," he says.
  Bloom has been described as "having a face that was carved from Italian marble," but he disregards his good looks as anything to do with clinching the sought-after role.
  "I probably have a certain Elven quality in terms of my facial structure perhaps, but other than that, they changed my looks completely. My hair is long and blonde and my eyes are blue," says the natural brunette. "I have to say that wearing those lenses was really uncomfortable. But as you can see, my eyes are dark brown, so I had to deal with being uncomfortable and I had to learn to live with tunnel vision for the 18 months that we were filming."
  Bloom's interest in acting began when he was young. "When I was a kid, we used to have running races in the playground to see who was going to be this girl's boyfriend for the day. So I thought, if I could be Superman and fly in and whisk her off then I could be her boyfriend," he laughs. "And once I'd realized that all those superstars and heroes for me on the screen were actors,
I thought, 'I want to be an actor too.' "
  After spending more than a year-and-a-half with his fellow actors on The Lord of the Rings set in New Zealand, it's no surprise the group formed a tight bond.
  "He's cool man! He is so great," says Dominic Monaghan who plays the Hobbit Merry. "He is hanging out in L.A. right now making a movie but we keep in touch. He's a good boy that Orlando."
  "Orlando's great. He's completely insane," offers Elijah Wood who plays Frodo in the films.
  "He's quite funny without actually trying to be funny. He'll sort of sit down and he can't sit still for very long and he'll say, 'I think I need to move my car' and he'll be off. You'll be having a conversation with him and be like 'where'd he go?' "
  Given his need to be on the move it comes as no surprise that Bloom loves skydiving, bungee jumping, surfing and snowboarding. As a result, he has also had his share of trips to hospital emergency rooms. In addition to the rib he broke when he fell off a horse while filming in New Zealand, Bloom has also broken his back, both legs, his nose, a finger, a wrist, a toe and even cracked his skull. "I feel like I'm in competition with Evil Knievel," the actor has been quoted as
saying.
  Another kind of move - the one to New Zealand for the duration of the shoot - also appealed to Bloom's sense of adventure. But it did have one
drawback.
  "I had a girlfriend at the time who I'm not with anymore. It's very difficult to keep a relationship going when you're not in the same country and you're travelling all the time. But I did notice that the girls from New Zealand are beautiful," he smiles. "Maybe I'll be down there again, but right now the only thing I'm in a major relationship with is my work. And as other people wiser than myself say, I'm too young to settle down."
  Not to mention the fact that he's also catnip to women right now.
  "All the attention I get is kind of scary," says Bloom. "Luckily a lot of people
don't recognize me without Legolas' blond wig."
  But the ones who do recognize him are enough to swell anyone's head. "My friends and family won't let that sort of thing happen to me," Bloom insists. "My best friends would give me a good thrashing if they thought I was getting a big head."
- Jane Gardner