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Born in Canterbury in 1977, Orlando Bloom was named after the classical English composer Orlando Gibbons. While studying at school, it was discovered that Bloom was dyslexic, and his mother encouraged him to take art and drama classes. He moved to London to study for an A Level Drama course over two years, and went on to join the National Youth Theatre. After two seasons with the group, he earned a scholarship to train at the British American Drama Academy, and eventually became a professional actor.
Bloom’s early screen roles came in episodes of Casualty and Midsomer Murders, before making his film debut in the 1997 Oscar Wilde biopic Wilde, in which he played a rent boy opposite Stephen Fry in the title role. He returned to study at Guildhall School of Music and Drama after the filming Wilde, and two days after graduating, he was cast as Legolas in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
His next major film role came in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, which started with The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003. Opposite Keira Knightley and Johnny Depp, he played Will Turner, a blacksmith who joins forces with Captain Jack Sparrow in search for the Black Pearl. The actor’s film career went from strength to strength, appearing in the films Troy, Kingdom of Heaven and Elizabethtown, as well as the subsequent Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings films. As of May 2007, Bloom appeared in four of the 15 highest-grossing films of all time.
Bloom made his stage debut in In Celebration, a revival of David Storey’s play at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2007. He played one of three brothers who returned to their home in a Nottinghamshire mining town for their parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. At the time, the actor said he always intended to act in theatre after graduating from Guildhall, and wanted to go “back to basics”.
In more recent years, Bloom’s films have included New York, I Love You, Paul W. S. Anderson’s The Three Musketeers, and parts two and three of Lord of the Rings prequels series The Hobbit, reprising the role of Legolas.
He returned to the theatre in 2013, this time making his Broadway debut in Romeo and Juliet at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, opposite Condola Rashad. Bloom then returned to the London stage in May 2018 as the title character in Killer Joe, Tracy Letts’ play about a hitman who demands a sinister alternative payment when the family who hire him can’t produce the cash he requires.