(For previous installments of Sarah’s Career Prospectus Series, please click here.)
Ever since we started this series, we’ve received repeated requests for Orlando Bloom. He’s been mentioned several times in other people’s prospectuses, but has somehow escaped having one of his own. But since Bloom just got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame—who is paying for it?!—it seems like a good time to examine what’s going on with Orlando Bloom, who was, not too long ago, one of the most famous people on the planet. Now he’s mostly famous for being Miranda Kerr’s baby daddy. What happened?
When I was in college, no one was bigger with girls and 20-something women than Orlando Bloom. Robert Pattinson now was Orlando Bloom then (thus Pattinson’s nickname, “Orlando Bloom 2.0”). Thanks to the one-two franchise punch of Lord of the Rings and The Pirates of the Caribbean, Bloom was tremendously famous, which allowed him to book roles in Brad Pitt’s flashy adaptation of the Iliad, Ridley Scott’s big-budget Crusades epic Kingdom of Heaven and a Cameron Crowe film co-starring Kirsten Dunst. How could anything go wrong? He should be set for life, right?
The first thing that went wrong for Bloom is that outside LOTR and the first Pirates movie (which is not aging well, so this statement is qualified) none of the movies he made were good. Since breaking out with LOTR in 2001, he’s had only one non-Rings movie get a fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 2012’s The Good Doctor. (I’m not counting Black Hawk Down because Bloom’s role was small—that’s a Josh Hartnett/Ewan McGregor/Eric Bana movie. Oh man, there are three prospectus recipients from that cast—maybe Black Hawk Down was cursed!) It’s come up in prospectuses before—no matter how big a break you get, eventually you have to make good movies to sustain public interest. Bloom has not been a reliable provider of good movies.
His trip to Broadway didn’t go much better. In 2013 he did a stint in a theatrical production of Romeo & Juliet but reviews weren’t great and the show actually ended up closing early (ouch). After breaking out as a teen idol with LOTR, Bloom had to prove he actually had acting chops and, thirteen years later, he’s still trying to prove that. That’s a huge problem, but it’s not that Bloom is untalented, it’s that Bloom is not a leading man. He is, in fact, Patient Zero for Leading Man Syndrome. Bloom was the first case I identified of an actor consistently outmatching himself with leading man parts. He’s a character actor at heart, but because he has a leading man’s face and because he got so famous so fast, the expectation was that he would be The Man, not That Guy.
But he should really give being That Guy a go. Bloom simply doesn’t have the talent to support a leading man career—he can’t carry a movie (see also: Kingdom of Heaven, Elizabethtown), but he does work in an ensemble or as a supporting character. And he’s not bad at that; he could have a really good career as a character actor. The solution to so many career problems these days is to get on a TV show, but Bloom really would be best served by an ensemble show. We know he looks cool as Legolas, but his chief problem is that he’s never established a real identity outside that. The steady exposure from a TV show would basically force people to accept him in another role.
There is another path available to Bloom. I’ve mentioned it before but it is inevitable that one day a man is going to try infiltrating the lifestyle market currently cornered by actresses. Bloom, whose fame quotient remains high because once you hit a certain level of celebrity, it never really goes away, and who has an adorable, popular celebrity kid, is in a prime position to be the first mock-tor. Dudes might not buy into it, but his large female fanbase would probably eat it up.
Orlando Bloom is not a hopeless case, but he’s never established himself outside of “teen idol”, and as he enters his late thirties, that’s an untenable position to maintain. I’m not even sure having a healthy and robust acting career is that high on his priorities, though. After all, he is still quite famous (and doing little to maintain it) and he made a fortune in the early aughts, so it’s not like he’s hard up for a paycheck. But if he wants a sterling professional reputation—the kind of reputation many assumed he’d have no problem proving out in the wake of LOTR—then he’s going to have to cure that case of Leading Man Syndrome. And the only way to do that is to stop trying to be a leading man.
No but seriously, who made that star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame happen?