As a member of The Fellowship of the Ring, Orlando Bloom’s Legolas was one of the most important characters in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. The great Elf warrior from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels truly came to life and gave the series some of its best moments, armed with some sweet archery skills and an unlikely friendship John Rhys-Davies’s Gimli. It’s a character that fans absolutely adore, and one that Bloom got the amazing chance to revisit on the set of The Hobbit trilogy.
As was revealed earlier today, my last report from the set of the new Hobbit movie was partially incomplete, as myself and a small group of other film journalists on the trip not only had the chance to see some scenes being filmed, but also talk with Orlando Bloom about his return to Middle-earth and the role of Legolas. You can read the complete interview below, in which the actor discusses working backwards from his performance in Lord of the Rings, working with the film’s revolutionary technologies, and the prince-versus-king dynamic that rises from his relationship with Lee Pace’s Thranduil.
Can you talk a little bit about getting back on set? What was your reaction to stepping back into this world the first day?
It was sheer joy. It was also a little bit of, "Oh, my word." This is ten years later, I'm ten years older and how's this all going to work? I quite literally was like, "Can I just try on my old costume just for posterity of it all?" It was amazing that Pete [Jackson] was back at the helm of this movie, and it was amazing that I got a call to say, “We would love you to be a part of the film.” I was just full of excitement. I was obviously like, "Ooh! This is going to be interesting to make the transition as an Elf being ten years older as myself, as an actor, going in to playing a character that would be younger, but as Elves are kind of ageless anyway we've managed to bridge the gap.
Is there much difference between Legolas in The Hobbit, versus Legolas in Lord Of The Rings?
No. Not masses. Essentially the Woodland Realm Elves, which is where Legolas is from, and my father being Thranduil, the king of those Elves, are a particular type of Elf as described by Tolkien to be... I'm not going to quote him correctly, but they are different from the Lothlorien and the Rivendell Elves. They're more militant, if you like. Legolas in Lord Of The Rings was sent as a bridge from his people into the world of dwarves and humans and wizards and everything else. This is an introduction into the Woodland Realm Elves. Obviously we meet my father, Thranduil, who is a very powerful and strong character who is very particular in his vision of who the Elves are, who the Woodland Elves are, specifically. They are kind of, like I said, a militant group, the Woodland Realm Elves. So I think that the opportunity that Pete and Philippa [Boyens] and Fran [Walsh]-- I think there was a desire for Legolas to come back. They felt that the fans would appreciate seeing Legolas in the Woodland Realm, and there was an opportunity to create a father-son, a prince versus king dynamic that would be interesting and serve the story.
Knowing how successful The Lord Of The Rings trilogy was, and also the fact that Legolas isn't actually in The Hobbit, was there ever any hesitation on your part about taking a role in this film?
Not after I had spoken to Peter. Their ideas, which I have explained, were made to clear to me about how it could be made seamless and effective. Not after I'd had that conversation. It was definitely something that anyone would think. There's a big love for these books and these films and these stories. I think in the hands of Peter, the fans, I would hope, would feel rest assured that he will deliver a movie that will both entertain and enjoy and will be in keeping with Tolkien's vision of the stories. They never stray at all from Tolkien's vision of what the world is, and for me it was exciting to think of returning to Middle Earth and to be a part of something. This is Pete in his element, doing what he does best. So it was just very exciting.
You guys pushed the boundaries of technology on the first three films, but on this one it seems, with 48 frames a second, the Red Epic 3D, but especially this slave motion cam, you guys are really pushing it a whole new generation forward. Can you talk about working with a slave motion cam and also your thoughts on this whole 48 frames a second?
I've never been a great one for technology. What I can tell you is that Pete is always going to push the boundaries and especially in a movie like this. The way that Pete explained to me really at the beginning of the movie was when he talked about it, and it slightly went over my head, but at the same time it was very simple. It was that shooting at 48 frames a second in 3D was going to make the experience for a movie-going audience much more pleasurable and natural and seamless, and make it all very much more real. In terms of an actor experiencing the slave moco aspect of it is interesting. It's very interesting. It is definitely new technology that can sometimes be challenging. But once you grasp what is required, from what I've seen it looks amazing. It looks incredible. A lot of what we did on Lord Of The Rings, what Pete did, it was just perspectives and shifting things. It was very rudimentary in comparison to what's being done today. In answer to your question, I'm as excited as you are, and I hope audiences will be to see how that all gels, and I know that it's something that Pete and his team will be doing, working extensively on to make it just the best experience that you can possibly have in the theatre.