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Orlando Bloom Biography:

Orlando Bloom was born on January 13, 1977, in Canterbury, England. His father, South African novelist and activist Harry Bloom, died when Orlando was only four years old. Orlando (named after the hero in Virginia Woolf's Orlando: A Biography) and older sister Samantha were raised by their mother, who encouraged the young Blooms to appreciate the arts and participate in the Kent Festival. Poetry and prose recitals were soon eclipsed by acting when Bloom realized that the big screen's Superman was in fact a role portrayed by Christopher Reeve.

In 1993, at the age of 16, Bloom moved to London, where he joined the National Youth Theatre for two years. In 1995, Bloom won a scholarship to study with the British American Drama Academy. He landed an agent after his appearance in a stage production of A Walk in the Vienna Woods, and made his film debut with a small role in Wilde (1997), starring Stephen Fry as Irish playwright Oscar Wilde. Bloom then went on to further his training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

During his three years at Guildhall, Bloom performed in such productions as Peer Gynt, Mephisto, Twelfth Night, The Seagull, and Sophocles' ancient Greek tragedy, Antigone. He also gained some experience in front of the camera with guest spots on British TV programs like Casualty and Midsomer Murders.

Bloom's time spent studying drama at Guildhall was not without real-life drama; in 1998, the notorious daredevil almost died after falling three stories, while he was attempting to climb onto a friend's rooftop terrace. He broke his back, and doctors initially believed he'd spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Successful surgery allowed him to walk out of the hospital on crutches some 12 days later. The ordeal gave the young actor a new perspective and appreciation of life.

Just days before he graduated from Guildhall in 1999, Bloom received a telephone call from his agent that would ignite his big-screen career. He originally auditioned for the role of Faramir in The Lord of the Rings trilogy (who is only introduced in the second installment), and while he didn't win that part, he was instead cast in the role of Legolas Greenleaf. The shooting took place over a 14-month period in director Peter Jackson's native New Zealand; a long way from Bloom's home in England.

Prior to filming in fall of 1999, Bloom spent two months training in archery, swordplay and horseback riding, learning the skills he would need to play the elf-warrior. The part also required a physical makeover, as the dark-haired, dark-eyed actor was transformed into the Elf Prince of Mirkwood through the use of blue contacts, a long blond wig, and prosthetic ear extensions.

All three films were shot simultaneously between October 1999 and December 2000. Despite spending more than a year away from family and friends, Bloom had a great time in New Zealand. His reputation as a thrill-seeker was soon evident, and he made the most of his free time by surfing, snowboarding and bungee jumping with other cast members. His only serious injury came about when another actor accidentally cracked one of Bloom's ribs after the two fell from the same horse. When filming finally wrapped, Bloom expressed some sadness at leaving his new friends, as well as the magnificence of New Zealand.

Bloom relocated from London to Los Angeles in early 2001. He was quickly off to Morocco after being cast in the Jerry Bruckheimer production Black Hawk Down, directed by Ridley Scott. The film was based on the botched U.S. mission in Somalia in October 1993. Ironically, the Army Ranger Bloom portrays falls from a helicopter and breaks his back, as well as several other body parts.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was released in December 2001, and broke all previous box-office records for December openings. The film went on to be the 11th highest grossing motion picture of all-time, making Bloom and his co-stars familiar to millions of moviegoers worldwide. Black Hawk Down opened soon after in late December, and the young actor received favorable reviews for his performances in both films.

Bloom next appeared in two quirky, low-budget British films -- Lullaby of Clubland and Deed Poll -- neither of which has been released in the U.S. In both films, Bloom co-stars with German actor and comedian Andre Schneider, who also happens to be a close friend of his.

The highly anticipated second installment of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, hit the big screen in time for Christmas 2002. The Two Towers broke the box-office records set by the first episode the previous December, solidifying Bloom's and his co-stars recognition factor for at least the foreseeable future.

In 2003, Bloom can be seen in even more action-adventure flicks, including Ned Kelly, based on the life of the infamous Australian outlaw and folk hero. Bloom plays Joe Byrne, best friend of the title character, portrayed by Heath Ledger. Jerry Bruckheimer's The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is set to hit screens in the summer of 2003, and stars Johnny Depp, Bloom, and his Ned Kelly co-star, Geoffrey Rush. In a bit of a departure from the adventure genre, Bloom will star as a British milkman who becomes a boxer in The Calcium Kid. December will see the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Orlando Bloom may soon be known as the prince of the epic adventure flick, as he's set to co-star in the Wolfgang Petersen-directed, big-budget epic Troy, based on Homer's classic, The Iliad. The film also stars Brad Pitt as ancient hero Achilles, and is scheduled for release sometime in 2004.

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