Orlando Bloom: Why I had to start again

A boy with two fathers but no father figure, Orlando Bloom has shelved thrill-seeking for family life with his son

Orlando Bloom: Why I had to start again
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When Orlando Bloom took on the role of the Duke of Buckingham in the latest screen adaptation of The Three Musketeers, he was making a point. He no longer wanted to play the swashbuckling hero. He plays a baddie and doesn't touch a sword for the duration of the film. Apparently it's all part of his reinvention.

"When I finished the trilogy of Pirates of the Caribbean movies, I had a gear shift and thought, I need to take a moment to smell the roses. I went to Antarctica for a couple of months on a science research project with my cousin. When I came back I did a play in London because I wanted to connect with the nuts and bolts of acting."

Did he find the Pirates movies were so overwhelming that he had to rediscover why he loved acting?

"You said it. There was this need to shift gears, to evaluate what I was doing.

"I've never wanted to be a celebrity and I've never thought of myself as that. I like to be in touch with humanity. I think it's important if you are an actor, if you are portraying human life, you have to connect with what is human. It's not easy if you spend a lot of time in LA and get sucked into the hedonism of the industry."

When we meet he is wearing a dark grey shirt, black jeans and walking boots, sporting a dark tan, a small goatee, hair that is shiny, clean and only slightly ruffled. Nothing like the early 1980s rockstar look he dons as Buckingham, a camp arch villain in blue tights, tunic and bouffant mullet - set to be the most talked-about movie hair (the film is in cinemas this Wednesday) since Javier Bardem's killer bob in No Country for Old Men.

"Buckingham is such a fashionista and the hair was a great tool, a way in. I didn't want to wear a wig, I wanted to use my own hair and liked the idea of a teddy boy's hair.

"I have always found myself playing the hero but I love villains. Villains have more fun. Buckingham is the kid in the playground with the big brother who will kick your butt if you mess with him. He is the kid in the sandbox who can kick sand in your face and get away with it."

He laughs a little nervously. His hazel eyes don't often manage to meet mine. He fiddles with his necklace, which is rose gold and filled with charms. There's one of a dog, a pointer, like the one he rescued when he was filming Kingdom of Heaven in Morocco. How different is he from Buckingham?

"Oh, he's arrogant and commanding and witty. But he's like a big child. I imagine he would throw a hissy fit if he didn't have his toys where he wanted them."

Is that how he was as a child?

"I was definitely naughty but I didn't have hissy fits. If things weren't going my way I would just make things go my way," he says with a suddenly determined little-boy face.

"I was left to my own devices as a child. My childhood was kind of complicated. I have an older sister but my father, my mother's husband, died when I was four years old. So I only had my mum and sister really."

He was born in 1977 and grew up in Canterbury. His 'father, my mother's husband', Harry Bloom, was an anti-apartheid campaigner who was already in his sixties and unable to father a child. His mother had made an arrangement with a family friend called Colin Stone with whom she ran a language school.

When Bloom was 13, his mother revealed that his biological father was, in fact, Stone.

He had to come to terms with having two fathers but no real father figure, which could explain why he's always been attracted to playing the hero and in a couple of films - Kingdom of Heaven and the first Pirates movie (Saturday Cinemagic) - a fatherless hero.

Since reassessing himself as an actor, Bloom seems to have also reassessed himself as a human being. After a string of relationships that didn't work out (Kirsten Dunst, Penelope Cruz, Sienna Miller) and a long-standing on/off romance with actress Kate Bosworth, he had a period of being alone until he met supermodel Miranda Kerr.

They were married last July and Kerr gave birth to a son, Flynn, less than nine months later.

And although she is always on the list of women who got their figure back immediately after giving birth, it was a gruelling labour for which she took no painkillers. Bloom was at her side every step of the way and has been a doting dad ever since.

There's no doubt that baby Flynn has initiated an even greater change in him.

"I just don't want to be away from him - at all. We are trying to schedule our lives so that, when I'm working, Flynn and Miranda can be with me. And if she's working I can be with them. Being a hands-on parent is important to me.

"Time with my son has pretty much gazumped everything else that makes me happy. We'll be going to New Zealand soon for The Hobbit and they'll all come with me. I'm also much more conscious of my health and safety. I still ride a motorbike and go mountain biking, but I'm quite aware that I do not want to kill myself here. I don't want to take any risks."

Bloom may have shelved the thrill-seeking in favour of cosy nights in, but abandoning the sure-fire, swashbuckling hero shtick with which he has become synonymous may prove a risky business indeed.