Growing up in the historic English cities of Canterbury and London may explain why dashing young actor Orlando Bloom is so well-suited for epic films like the upcoming Kingdom of Heaven.Once upon a time, in the verdant county of Kent, in the city of Canterbury, England, a boy was christened Orlando Jonathan Blanchard Bloom, after 17th-century composer Orlando Gibbons. Alas, this Orlando, being from Canterbury, where Geoffrey Chaucer based his famously unfinished tales, would soon take a more dramatic turn with his life. Having excelled in local plays at an early age, he moved to London at 16 to attend drama school, a journey that not only transformed the boy into a man, but also into a star born for epics on the silver screen. In London, he met the wizard behind The Lord of the Rings, who cast Bloom as the elfin Legolas Greenleaf. Soon, our hero was a prince of Hollywood, performing alongside the kings: with Viggo Mortensen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, and Brad Pitt in Troy. His next big role may be as the teenage 007 in the upcoming James Bond movie. In the meantime, the 27-year-old sensation can be seen in this month's Kingdom of Heaven, a typically Orlando-esque adventure about a common man who serves a doomed king, falls in love with a forbidden queen, and rises to knighthood. Here with, Bloom tells the equally captivating story of his own life in England.
Tale #1: The Youngster Meets His Inner Chaucer
"In Canterbury, there is a place called the Canterbury Tales, which is like a little walk-through museum where you see all the different characters described. The mannequins are all dressed up, and there are even the sounds and smells of the times. It's quaint."
Tale #2: The Lad Leaves Home And Becomes A Londoner
"I moved to London to finish my studies and go to drama school. My dad drove me up, and I stayed with family friends. On my first night, I put on London radio stations. I remember waking up my first morning and thinking about all my friends in Canterbury who were probably at the same boarding school, and, wow, here I was listening to KISS FM. In Canterbury, it was like invective radio. And I remember thinking, Wow, this is cool. I'm in London and I'm listening to great music on London radio. I had dreams of being an actor, and the National Youth Theatre, which is an amateur dramatics company based in London, was something that I joined initially. I also finished my education at the Fine Arts College in North London, did theater, photography, and sculpture - subjects that weren't available to me at school in Kent. I felt that if I wanted to be an actor, London was the best place to start. I lived there for seven years until I left to do Lord of the Rings.
"I consider London my home. I pine for it. I find myself more often than not in America, predominantly L.A., so I feel homesick for London. I think it's the energy. It was so liberating. Nobody was judging you. You could dress however you liked. You could really just be essentially who you wanted to be. I remember when I was a child we'd occasionally go up to London on the weekend. We'd go to the theater and grab something to eat, or we'd go shopping on Oxford Street or along the Kings Road. So I had a connection with London, because it's only about an hour and a half from Canterbury. I remember going to the Tower of London, too, and seeing the Crown Jewels. They're all there in a case, and then there are the Beefeater men, who are there to guard the jewels.
"When I started drama school, I had a flat in the center of London under the British Telecom Tower, and I always used to think of the tower as my back garden. It was like a beacon for home, because it's so tall and I could always see it flashing. I lived on Hanson Street, and there was a fantastic little greasy spoon there. In the summer, we'd sit outside under the BT Tower eating eggs and bacon, tea and toast. On the other end of my street is a restaurant called Back to Basics. It's a small fish place with really lovely waitresses from Sweden or Stockholm or somewhere. The food is fantastic, the fish fresh, really well cooked. My good friend whom I lived with in the flat was Swedish, and he loved the food there and recognized the cooking as a taste from home. There was a restaurant next to it called Silks & Spice. They have one in Camden, as well. It's got great Thai food."