Action hero

Orlando Bloom is busy. Spy thriller Unlocked opens today and a new Pirates movie is released shortly. He talks to Gemma Dunn.

Orlando Bloom is certainly not short of media headlines.

His antics – one Google search is all it takes – have meant he’s now as famous for his Internet-breaking nude paddle boarding escapade, alongside former flame Katy Perry, as he is for his Hollywood movie career.

As recently as last week, the Hobbit actor, 40, also caused a stir after referring to himself as a “pikey from Kent” on the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show – a comment he later apologised for.

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It’s no surprise, then, all personal questions are strictly off-limits during today’s chat.

Steering media attention in a different direction, Bloom – tanned and casually dressed in black jeans, a simple tee and trainers – is poised and ready to talk about his career renaissance, beginning with an against-type role in Michael Apted’s latest action-thriller, Unlocked.

It was after seeing his darkly intense performance in South African crime-thriller Zulu that the Canterbury-born actor was approached for the pivotal role of Jack Alcott, a battle-scarred, Iraq war veteran who unexpectedly comes to the rescue of CIA interrogator Alice (Noomi Rapace) when she goes on the run.

Bloom was only too happy to play the wild card.

“You’re not sure what side of the line he plays and what his objectives are,” he says excitedly. “Initially, there was a character that was more buttoned-up written down on the page, and Michael was really open to me bringing a different kind of a thing; I wanted to have that ex-military, hired gun, somebody who has probably done time as well as done service.

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“I loved the opportunity to play a guy like Jack, who’s playing by a totally different set of rules: his own,” Bloom adds. “It was nice for me to have a turn like that.”

He admits to being intrigued by the topical element of Unlocked too; the plot centres on a race against the clock to stop a biological warfare attack on London.

“Reading the script, it was something that was scary and very possible,” he muses. “But what’s interesting is we actually shot this movie two years ago. It was a really twisty-turny script, in depth, and when they finally got the edit, they wanted to re-clarify some of the ending.

“Getting Noomi and Michael’s schedules together to do that was a challenge, but it’s worked out very well, because in terms of timing and the world we live in, it feels more current now than ever.”

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With a young son (Bloom has a six-year-old, Flynn, with ex-wife Miranda Kerr) to think of, it’s a threat he confesses he’s sadly been forced to consider.

“I grew up taking the tube through London, going to drama school, and we were constantly being pulled off due to bomb scares with the IRA and stuff like that,” recalls the actor, who now resides in Malibu.

“But weirdly, I guess because I have a son, I sometimes will be in big theme parks or whatever with him and I think, ‘Oh, this could be one of those weird places where something...’ And I’ve never really had that before.

“So it’s a bit of a scary place, the world we’re living in today. There needs to be more dialogue. More of a human dialogue about what’s happening.”

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Growing up in the historic cathedral city of Canterbury in Kent, Bloom – named after the 16th-century English composer Orlando Gibbons – had somewhat of a privileged upbringing, attending the prestigious St Edmund’s School.

He later studied acting at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and had a stint on medical drama series Casualty before Hollywood beckoned. Now, of course, his back catalogue of movie work, which includes huge blockbuster franchises like The Lord Of The Rings, Troy and The Hobbit, is not to be scoffed at.

He’s about to make a huge splash with his reprisal of swashbuckling hero Will Turner in the Pirates Of The Caribbean’s fifth chapter, Salazar’s Revenge, due for release at the end of May.

“I’ve seen the movie now and it’s fantastic,” Bloom quips of the fantasy-action epic. “I kind of bookend the movie and it’s about my son [played by Brenton Thwaites] going off and trying to figure out how to rescue me from the bottom of the ocean.”

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The narrative is similar to that of the first 2003 film, Bloom reveals. “That was a movie that most people, the consensus was, loved!” he states – and he hopes Salazar’s Revenge will garner a similar reaction, because it too “is not overloaded with special effects, the set pieces are really witty and funny in the way that Captain Jack would display, and there’s a unique and interesting love story between the two young actors”.

“It mirrors the story we saw with me and Keira [Knightley],” Bloom adds, beaming. “So it’s good.”

Having opted to step back from the fourth instalment in 2011, his comeback marks the first of the Disney haul he can enjoy with his son (“He loves them! What kid doesn’t love a pirate?”).

So will the lure of ‘dad points’ have him seeking out more action roles, as opposed to the to-type romantic leads in the future? (Though he cringes when the term heart-throb is mentioned.)

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“The last few years have really been about being present for my son,” says Bloom. “[Unlocked] was a great opportunity to come in and do a handful of scenes and show a completely different side of myself. I’m excited about the next chapter as I’ve entered my 40s. I feel good about what’s to come.”

Unlocked(15) is out in cinemas today.