Imagine if Orlando Bloom was seen on the big screen serenading Nicole Kidman in “Moulin Rouge!” in 2001 instead of Ewan McGregor.
It was a real possibility according to Bloom, who told Howard Stern in a resurfaced 2019 interview that he actually auditioned for the iconic role of Christian in director Baz Luhrmann’s Oscar-winning film six times.
“I thought that was going to be the one that was going to go my way just before ‘Lord of the Rings,’” Bloom said, adding that the “Moulin” audition was “around the same sort of time” as his “Rings” audition.
Bloom told Stern that the “Moulin Rouge!” filmmakers were originally planning to cast unknown actors, saying, “obviously, I’d have been the unknown” given that he had only a few professional acting credits under his belt at the time. He added that they ultimately ended up casting bona fide stars Kidman and McGregor as the leads, “so it was a very different way to go.”
Bloom got his big break after all when he landed the role of Legolas, a heroic Elf gifted in archery, in Peter Jackson’s 2001 film “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.”
The movie was the first in the “Rings” trilogy, based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s famed books. Bloom went on to play Legolas in 2002’s sequel “The Two Towers” and in the epic finale “The Return of the King” in 2003.
Given that Bloom was, as he noted in the Stern interview, an “unknown” actor at the time, he said his salary for all three “LOTR” films was only $175,000. However, it ultimately ended up paying off for the actor, who went on to find major success as Will Turner in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie franchise. He also reprised his role of Legolas in two of the “The Hobbit” movies, 2013’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” in 2014.
Regardless of the low payday for the original “Rings” trilogy, Bloom knew the value of how it impacted his career, and told Stern that the role of Legolas was “the greatest gift of my life.”