Orlando Bloom’s career is a fascinating one, as the star blew up in a massive way in the early 2000s thanks to his key supporting roles in two massive blockbuster franchises. But he’s spent the years since turning in solid work as both a leading man and ensemble player for notable directors, from his earnest yet tortured rom-com hero in Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown to Ridley Scott’s medieval war epic Kingdom of Heaven.
The five roles below highlight some of his career’s peaks while also acknowledging that the full scope of his abilities as an actor has yet to be reached; he’s got some solid comedy chops, for one thing, and a willingness to make himself look ridiculous in things like the HBO mockumentary Tour de Pharmacy. But he’s already accomplished a lot, as seen here.
In celebration of Bloom’s 45th birthday today (January 13th), we’re revisiting his five best roles. Check out the list below.
— Liz Shannon Miller
5. Carnival Row, Rycroft Philostrate (2019 – present)
Carnival Row is such a strange yet charming oddity of a series — based on an unproduced screenplay, the fantasy tale is packed with wild elements, including Bloom really committing to his role as Rycroft Philostrate (what a name!), who works for the police department of a city where fantastical creatures live amongst humans (but deal with no shortage of prejudice as a result).
Philo’s got an intense connection with a rebellious fae named Vignette (Cara Delevingne) and some secrets of his own, which make for a complicated yet fascinating stew. Season 2 is in the works now, with production wrapping in September 2021, which means Philo and Vignette could be back before we know it. — L.S.M.
4. Troy, Paris (2004)
Troy, based on the Greek epic The Iliad and the decade-long Trojan War, arrived at the perfect time for Bloom. At this point in his career, both Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean were underway, helping to make him the perfect choice for the young lover, Paris, known in the original Greek myth and every iteration of the story since as a paragon of beauty. Bloom had the heart, he had the look, and he had the clout, making his turn as Paris something of a no-brainer. — Mary Siroky
3. Extras, Himself (2006)
Extras brought out the best in all of its special guest stars, but Bloom’s appearance as “himself” is honestly tough to beat. Bloom really leans into the concept of playing with persona by depicting an Orlando Bloom whose petty obsession with being seen as more popular than Johnny Depp gets overwhelmed by the extreme disinterest of Maggie (Ashley Jensen). Between the preening and the bitterness, Bloom’s performance is so hilarious and specific that it feels very possible he was basing it on a real person. God bless him for really going for it. — L.S.M.
2. Pirates of the Caribbean, Will Turner (2003-2017)
For many young people, especially those born in the mid to late-’90s, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan were extremely formative. The chemistry! The passion! The desperation with which Will and Elizabeth fought for each other was one of the most wonderful parts of the franchise, especially the original, The Curse of the Black Pearl. The franchise as a whole majorly fell off as it dragged on, but the first movie remains a truly fantastic adventure film, and Orlando Bloom’s commitment and chemistry with absolutely everyone around him was a big part of that. — M.S.
1. The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, Legolas (2001-2014)
In conversations of Most Iconic Wigs In Film (which, as we all know, are incredibly common), there’s only one name that should always be at the top of the list. Legolas was a breakthrough for Orlando Bloom, who quickly shot to international stardom thanks to the role, which he’d continue to play for over a decade. The Lord of the Rings franchise has gone on to remain one of the most successful and iconic franchises of all time, and, in retrospect, part of that longevity is the way so many perfect pieces came together at the perfect time. Bloom’s performance as Legolas is one of them. — M.S.