It happens first on the ground floor. “Oh my God!” hisses one excited beautician to her colleague. “Jen just told me that Orlando Bloom is in the building!” Then it happens again on the escalator. Three fervent female shoppers barge past me, bags flying, exclaiming, “He’s near ‘Men’s Accessories’, apparently!” Despite its size, word inside London’s Selfridges clearly travels fast.
Bloom is at the consumer mecca to promote the new Hugo Boss fragrance, Boss Man Orange, of which he is the face. His easy-going style, he tells ShortList, makes him a “good fit” for it but, as the hysterical whisperings bouncing around the department store prove, his continuing popularity must have been a factor too.
The 34-year-old’s turns as arrow-happy elf Legolas in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and genial blacksmith Will Turner in the Pirates Of The Caribbean series marked him out as one of the Noughties’ premier go-to ‘goodies’. This year, however, will see him cast against type as the villainous Duke of Buckingham in Paul WS Anderson’s 3D re-make of The Three Musketeers. How will the world — and, in particular, its beauticians — cope with Orlando Bloom: Bad Guy? There’s only one way to find out…
You’ve just finished filming The Three Musketeers -— how was it?
It was great — I had the best time. It was obviously a real departure for me to play a villain. Christoph Waltz is the main bad guy, though: Cardinal Richelieu. He did an amazing job.
Did he give you any villainous tips?
Mainly I just watched him work. And not only on this film, either -— I went back and watched him in Inglourious Basterds, too. The thing he does so well in that is not playing the ‘baddie’ card too obviously. He doesn’t camp it up.
Can we expect a thoroughly ‘uncamped’ bad guy from you, then?
No, I think I camped it up quite a lot, actually [laughs]. This was my first time playing a villain. I had the costume, the big hairdo… I was like, ‘I’m camping it up!’ Like a petulant child.
Were you a big Musketeers fan?
Not really. I was more into Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Superman. But I did go back and look at a really old black-and-white Musketeers film, starring Douglas Fairbanks. That was very funny. It’s a silent movie with everyone flailing their arms about madly. But it’s such a universal story that people keep coming back to it. Every generation has a Musketeers film.
You’re rumoured to be returning as Legolas in The Hobbit. Can you tell us anything about the project?
I wish I could. I would be honoured if I was asked to do it, and I would run to work with Peter Jackson again. I adore him and I’m so excited at the prospect of it. But at this stage, it’s not something I can confirm.
You and the LOTR cast all got matching tattoos during filming — are you still on each other’s Christmas card list?
Yeah, it was a real family affair. I’m still in touch with Billy Boyd [Pippin] — he’s a very sweet man. And I’ve got a card I’m going to put in the mail to Viggo [Mortensen, who played Aragorn, pictured with Bloom above], because I’ve been thinking about how much of an influence he was on me. He’s so dedicated, disciplined and talented. He taught me a lot. And it was only afterwards that I realised it. It’s funny: you look back on these things 10 years later and ask yourself, ‘Who had a major impact on me?’ As an actor, it was Viggo. I was unpacking a load of boxes recently, recounting old memories, and I remembered how lucky I was that he was around me at that time.
Has starring in two of the most successful film franchises of the past decade been overwhelming?
There have been a few moments that have freaked me out. I took my grandmother to the premiere of the second Pirates movie in Leicester Square. That was slightly mad. Getting out of the car, all the energy — and with my grandma being there as well.
Stephen Graham told us that he’d been trying to get Johnny Depp to support Liverpool. As a Manchester United fan, how does that make you feel?
Well, when I was young, my best mate lived next door to me and his dad was a big Man United fan. There were three boys [in that family] so I’d go round and watch the footie, and since they were all huge fans I became one by default. I followed Man United for a long time, but I haven’t been able to keep up with sport lately. I wouldn’t go as far as to get into any fights over it.
What’s it like working with the legend that is Johnny Depp?
He is a very funny man. Johnny’s hilarious. He’s always up for a laugh, and he has a very British sense of humour.
In the past, you’ve cracked your skull and broken your ribs — would you say that you were accident-prone?
I was a little ‘carefree’ when I was younger [laughs]. As a kid, I walked a fine line.
What’s the worst injury you’ve ever suffered?
I once broke my back. I was trying to get on to a friend’s roof terrace and I fell three floors. I was 21. I finished my third year of drama school in a brace. I was very lucky to have walked away from it OK.
You’re known for being a stylish dresser, but did you go through any embarrassing fashion phases as a kid?
Well I didn’t have a teenage ‘goth’ fad or anything. I was more into Dr Martens and skinny jeans. More of a mod.
You spoke a while ago about wanting to get back into theatre — did you feel that there wasn’t enough being asked of you as a film actor?
No, I think a lot can be asked of you as a film actor and that’s what I’m always looking for in any role — to have a lot asked of me. But yes, theatre’s special. I did a piece from Romeo And Juliet recently at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and that really got my blood pumping. There’s something very immediate — and very unforgiving — about being in front an audience.
That suggests you’ve had one or two bad on-stage moments…
I died once on stage -— that’s where you go completely blank and forget your line. It was at drama school. I remember the actor next to me feeding me my cue over and over and trying desperately to ad-lib. I just didn’t move — I totally froze up and he was overdoing it to compensate. It was mortifying.
What’s been your worst ever audition?
I had one recently. I won’t say what for, but auditions are horrible experiences. I don’t think you’ll find a single actor who’ll tell you that they enjoy the process.
That’s understandable — it’s basically a job interview, isn’t it?
Yeah. And then some.
Orlando Bloom is the face of Boss Orange Man; boss-fragrances.co.uk
Main image: Rex