No matter how high Orlando Bloom's star rises in the future, he will always remember Legolas. That's partly because Bloom has enjoyed universal acclaim for his turn as the elegant Elf archer. But mostly it's because The Lord of the Rings marks his first film performance.
Here, the London-trained actor discusses the evolution of Legolas, his character's surprising relationship with Gimli and his own delight at being part of cinematic history -- on the first try.
No character is unchanged by the course of events in Middle-earth. How does Legolas evolve?
Elves are pretty high status. I mean, they wouldn't normally interact with other species. So what you see in the first movie is a reserved kind of character, somebody who is kind of figuring out what's going on as the Fellowship embarks on its journey. In the second film, he becomes much more sensitive in terms of his emotion, and the way he interacts with Gimli or with Aragorn.
What about in the third film, how does he evolve?
The closeness and the bond of the Fellowship has kind of humanized Legolas. When Gandalf dies in the first movie, or when Aragorn has been taken over the edge of the cliff in the second movie, he feels for the other characters. For elves, who are immortal, the idea of death is something they have never really understood. But in the third movie, what you see is an elf that has more compassion. He's much more accessible, less reserved.
One of the real treats in the films is the chemistry between Legolas and Gimli. Can you talk about that relationship?
Elves wouldn't normally have anything to do with dwarves; there's bad blood between them. But as Legolas evolves to understand that he's part of the world and the Fellowship, he and Gimli develop a closeness. You see a wry, dry humor appear. You get glimpses in the second movie, with the body count at Helm's Deep. And in the third film the way they interact is just funny. To see two completely opposite people befriend each other and try to find common ground, I think that will amuse people.
Viggo was like a mentor for me, without anything being spoken. I used to sit next to him on the make-up bus, and find myself just staring at him while he was having his make-up done and drawing in his book or writing his notes. I would find myself fascinated.
Did you do any Elf bonding with Liv Tyler?
When Liv first arrived, I'd been in New Zealand for a couple of months. I'd done all this research for the elves, and I know she'd done stuff, and we compared notes. It was a fun session, just sitting down and chatting about the elves while we were playing pool. I was really excited about expressing it all and she was really receptive. It was a special time.
How did you get on with the hobbits, and do you still keep in touch?
I got along incredibly well with all the hobbits, and I still do. I was just back in L.A. and I went surfing with Billy and Dom a few times. I saw Elijah, and we all went out for dinner one night. And I saw Sean Astin at some awards ceremony. Whenever we get together, it's as if nothing's changed, you know what I mean?
The Paths Of The Dead was a great scene to shoot. There was a really eerie quality to it. The fact we were walking into this cave of death to summon the dead to aid us, and the fact Aragorn is capable of that power, is kind of eerie. There was a real kind of energy about it.
The Lord of the Rings is actually the first film you ever worked on. Not a bad way to start your career, is it?
There was something incredibly special about working on The Lord Of The Rings. It felt like you were making something that was part of history. I was so lucky to have had my first experience working on this movie. I was blessed that I got to work very closely with the cast, the crew, the director, everyone involved in this project. It gave me a first experience that people just don't get it.