The rise and fall of Orlando Bloom: The actor destined to reign in Hollywood who got sick of seeing himself on screen

After a decade without leading a blockbuster, the interpreter returns to theaters with the automotive drama ‘Gran Turismo’

Orlando Bloom
Orlando Bloom at the Cannes festival, May 27, 2023.Lionel Hahn (Getty Images)
Orlando Bloom
Actor Orlando Bloom at the most recent Cannes Film Festival on May 27, 2023.Lionel Hahn (Getty Images)

“And you have my bow.” Those are the only words that the elf Legolas directly says to Frodo Baggins during the nine hours of footage that make up The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s a brief speech, but enough to make the archer a vital asset in the salvation of Middle Earth. It also turned the actor who played him — a twenty-year-old without experience in front of a camera — into a generational sex symbol and global icon. His rise was so meteoric that some considered him the “Errol Flynn of our time.” The sky was the limit for British actor Orlando Bloom, now 46. But he could not — or would not — ever live up to the expectations placed on him in 21st-century Hollywood or the countless headlines he inspired in the tabloids. Now, 20 years after the release of the first installment of Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the undisputed height of his fame, Bloom returns to the screen ready for his new work to satisfy all those who were dying to see the actor’s face on movie billboards once again.

Seeking to overtake Barbie, which has been unbeatable at the summer box office so far, the sports drama Gran Turismo arrives in theaters, much to the delight of fans of the legendary video game and motor racing. Based on true events, the film tells the story of a teenager who went from being a console genius to a professional racer. Bloom plays the person who discovered the young man and mentored him in his transition from the video-game controller to the steering wheel. This is the actor’s first big-budget production since a decade ago, when he reprised his role as Legolas in The Hobbit saga for the fifth time. Pigeonholed or not, the truth is that his attempts to headline films away from big franchises were met with the usual rejection of the public and critics, and Bloom himself decided to stay away from Hollywood to focus on his family life.

“I was sick of seeing myself. I was sick of the sight of myself, almost, with all the publicity that had to go along with all these movies, and inevitably, I think, you just burn out to an extent to yourself and for an audience,” he confessed in 2020 in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. After a three-year marriage to Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr, with whom he shares his first child — 12-year-old Flynn — Bloom began a relationship with pop star Katy Perry in 2016. “I always say when he walks into the room he has this joie de vivre to him and some people ask, ‘What is this guy on?’ He’s just really got this happy, posi[tive] vibes and I’m a little bit more heady and prone to depression in some ways — and so it’s good for me to be around him because he gets me out of my head a little bit,” the singer of “I Kissed a Girl” explained. In August 2020, the couple had a baby girl named Daisy, and they are still waiting for the right time to hold their wedding after the pandemic ruined their initial plans. He has made it clear that, having grown up without a biological father around, being present in his offspring’s childhood is a much higher priority than his career as an actor. Today, he and Perry form one of the most media-friendly couples in Los Angeles and their every romantic adventure occupies lots of space on society websites. The latest story? The sobriety pact the pair signed onto together, which has kept them away from alcohol for several months.

Orlando Bloom and Katy Perry at Wimbledon on July 5, 2023, in London.
Orlando Bloom and Katy Perry at Wimbledon on July 5, 2023, in London.Karwai Tang (WireImage)

A risk-taker (Bloom’s docuseries on extreme sports will premiere soon), an advocate of veganism and an environmental activist, he has been practicing Buddhism since the age of 16, despite his birth in Canterbury, the seat of the Church of England. Speaking to The Times, he confirmed that he was only “semi-present” during the early days of his successful career in Los Angeles, and that he never would have survived in the industry without his faith: “Without my practice of Buddhism, I could easily have gone off the rails. But I’ve changed the narrative in my head and now I feel like I can be the engineer of my own train.” Bloom was appointed as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 2014. Last March, he traveled to Ukraine to visit a shelter for refugee children and to meet with the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, where the two discussed various humanitarian aid projects to help children. During the meeting, Bloom shared a note written by his Buddhist mentor with Ukraine’s president: “Your victory would be the victory of humanism, your defeat the defeat of hope. Thus, you must win.”

Orlando Bloom with then-partner Miranda Kerr at the 2013 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood, California.
Orlando Bloom with then-partner Miranda Kerr at the 2013 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood, California. Jon Kopaloff (FilmMagic)

Beyond starring in a handful of action movies that aspire to liven up after-dinner TV, his most recent work was a starring role in the fantasy series Carnival Row. Cancelled after the second season, it premiered only a few months ago on Prime Video. The show appeared unceremoniously on television, and it demonstrates the difficulties that many movie stars experience in trying to find their niche beyond the million-dollar action movie franchises for which they are known. Forbes magazine called Bloom the “first modern movie star” for his ability to be worth his weight in gold playing the character that made him famous but commercially useless in almost any other job (the magazine also suggested that Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans might have that problem as well). But with an estimated fortune of over $40 million, several memorable roles, a stable relationship and two children, it does not seem that Orlando Bloom will lose any sleep over his fall from Hollywood’s acme. As he already said, “I see my career as a marathon, not a sprint.”

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