Around two decades ago, it looked like the film industry had discovered a surefire superstar of tomorrow in a young English actor named Orlando Bloom. Classically and boyishly handsome and charming, he showed versatility as a performer as well as the ability to hold his own against more experienced actors. It also didn’t hurt that his breakthrough performances came in two of the most lucrative and adored movie franchises of all time: The Lord of the Rings, in which he portrayed the Elven Legolas, and Pirates of the Caribbean (as swooning blacksmith-turned-pirate Will Turner).
Bloom enjoyed a period of ultra-stardom in the early 2000s, perpetuated with appearances in plenty more Tolkien and pirate films, but over the last decade, that fame seems to have precipitously dropped off. While it once looked like a sure bet that Bloom would be a Hollywood long-hauler, he didn’t have too many more high-profile roles. Here’s why Orlando Bloom doesn’t light up the inside of the multiplexes all that much these days.
Orlando Bloom is a victim of typecasting
After less than half a dozen appearances on British TV shows and one small role in one film in the late 1990s, Orlando Bloom made an impression on audiences with a big part in one of the biggest films ever: The Fellowship of the Ring, the first of Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Bloom portrayed the blond-haired, notably eared, bow-toting warrior elf Legolas, and became a star as the trilogy grossed nearly $3 billion. In 2003, right around the same time as the release of the final Lord of the Rings film, Bloom struck gold again, playing the heroic good guy and romantic lead Will Turner in the smash-hit Disney adventure Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
But the arrows and cutlasses might be double-edged. Those franchises were so immensely popular (and so associated with early 2000s cinema), that Bloom is tied to them forever. Audiences and filmmakers might not be able to think of Bloom as anything other than a flaxen-haired horseback mythical warrior or a young and reluctant pirate. The only financially successful entries in Bloom’s career released after 2010: the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie and The Hobbit, a prequel series to The Lord of the Rings.
Orlando Bloom's non-franchise movies all flopped
When Orlando Bloom portrays a Middle-Earth elf or an 18th-century swashbuckler, his movies do fine. When he doesn’t, the film is almost guaranteed to flop. His star power during his early 2000s Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean days helped propel contemporary action films Troy and Kingdom of Heaven to success, but when Bloom is left to headline a movie alone, he can’t seem to draw a crowd.
In 2005, he starred in Elizabethtown, written and directed by Oscar-winner Cameron Crowe. The film took in a meager $26.8 million in the US and critics hated it, with many calling out Bloom’s unconvincing Kentucky accent. A 2011 adaptation of The Three Musketeers, which more closely aligned to Bloom’s action-adventure history, earned just barely $20 million in North America, while numerous other films featuring the actor — Main Street, The Good Doctor, and Love and Other Disasters — were barely released in the US at all, and have final box office takes in the low thousands.
Bloom is apparently just not a bankable star outside of his huge, comfortable, guaranteed-to-be successful franchises, so filmmakers are less likely to cast him in their projects.
Orlando Bloom's attempts at TV were unsuccessful
For decades, the entertainment industry operated under the auspice that there were two kinds of actors: movie stars, and TV stars. Rarely did an actor move from one column to the other, apart from the occasional breakout small-screen star — like Will Smith or George Clooney — permanently heading for films.
In the era of “peak TV,” however, the lines have blurred. Big-budgeted, cinematic quality TV shows like Game of Thrones play like short, episodic movies, and have thus attracted so-called movie stars to their ranks. Take Carnival Row, for example. The ambitious, complex Prime Video series is set in Victorian London where fantastical creatures live among humans, until a series of murders threatens the tenuous peace. Playing the lead role of the Sherlock Holmes-like detective Rycroft Philostrate: movie star Orlando Bloom in his first regular, episodic TV series.
Carnival Row quietly ran for the first season of nine episodes to middling critical reviews. Unfortunately for Bloom, moving to television didn’t revitalize his career the way it had for actors like Matthew McConaughey (True Detective) and Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies).
Orlando Bloom took too much time off and the public forgot about him
One of the main reasons why Orlando Bloom rarely works is that he seemingly doesn’t work when he doesn’t feel like it, or when projects on offer don’t thrill him. Perhaps he’s got enough money socked away from his work on mega-hits like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lord of the Rings that he enjoys the luxury of being choosy about his projects. At any rate, Bloom has gone long periods of time without appearing in a major movie.
In 2007, after the third Pirates movie, Bloom pursued theatrical roles for a spell. He wouldn’t appear in another big, mainstream Hollywood film until The Three Musketeers in 2011. That’s a break of four years — an eternity in the rapidly moving pop culture. In 2017, Bloom starred in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, his last big theatrical movie as of early 2021.
The other side of this coin is that when celebrities take a hiatus, they risk being forgotten. Bloom took so much time off and has done so quite often, that in the crowded movie industry, where actors jostle for both attention and roles from major filmmakers, he took himself out of the running for whenever he did come back. It’s possible that when Orlando Bloom stepped away, Hollywood moved on to some other handsome English actor.
Orlando Bloom is a teen idol from another time, and time passed
Heartthrobs, hunks, and teen idols don’t age well — or rather, their status as the big celebrity of the moment doesn’t. They enjoy an intense period of fame, but that tends to burn out quite quickly as their fans move on to the next big thing, or age out of that period where rapt, almost obsessive fandom is a part of life. Orlando Bloom is an example and victim of this phenomenon, a heavily-watched and admired celebrity in the early 2000s when he was a movie star in his mid-twenties.
Because of their very specific period of fame, teen idols like Bloom may be closely associated with a very specific period of time, and they have a hard time convincing the public otherwise — they’re human beings who became as dated as a fashion fad or one-hit-wonder, unfortunately. Filmgoers and filmmakers may have a hard time considering Orlando Bloom as anything other than that guy from millennium-era movies like The Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean (not to mention countless bedroom wall and locker posters).
Orlando Bloom is busy with his love life and being a dad
Don’t cry for the downfall or downturns in the acting career of Orlando Bloom — he’s maintaining a good work-life balance. Per Us Weekly, in January 2016, he met pop superstar and American Idol judge Katy Perry at a post-Golden Globes party, and by May, the couple was Instagram-official. That year, Bloom and Perry set out on a jet-set courtship, showing up at Coachella, the Cannes Film Festival, and in Italy, where he was photographed operating a paddle boat while totally nude.
After a split in 2017, the duo reunited in 2018, and in February 2019 Perry announced that she and Bloom were engaged. In August 2020, Perry gave birth to a baby girl named Daisy Dove Bloom, her first child and Bloom’s second, following son Flynn, born in 2011 to Bloom’s ex-wife, model Miranda Kerr.
It would seem that off-screen and off the set, Bloom is living his personal life to the hilt of happiness, and that apparently keeps him plenty busy and quite satisfied.
Orlando Bloom has a potential comeback vehicle on the way
Orlando Bloom hasn’t completely dropped out of the Hollywood rat race or off the face of the Earth, however. He starred in the harrowing indie drama Retaliation (alternately titled Romans), which hit film festivals in 2017 but didn’t reach the US (as an Amazon exclusive) until 2020. Bloom showed off his dramatic skills as Malky, a man who exacts revenge on the man who abused him as a child. Then, in late 2020, per Town & Country, HBO Max ordered an animated sitcom called The Prince.
Created by Family Guy writer Gary Janetti, the show is a satirical, mocking look at the royal family of the United Kingdom, told from the perspective of toddler Prince George. Alongside Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones‘ Ramsay Bolton) as Prince William, Bloom will play a twisted comic version of Prince Harry.
As of this writing, these projects could potentially launch Bloom back to super-stardom, or at least into a new niche as a working actor who gets to make interesting and creatively fulfilling projects.
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