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Last Updated: Friday, 8 August, 2003, 07:59 GMT 08:59 UK
Pirates films tests its stars
Caroline Westbrook
By Caroline Westbrook
BBC News Interactive entertainment

Orlando Bloom
Orlando Bloom plays hero Will Turner
One of the summer's most eagerly anticipated blockbusters, Pirates Of The Caribbean, opens at UK cinemas this weekend after huge US success.

The film, which has taken nearly $210m (£130m) so far at the American box office, marks Orlando Bloom's first major starring role since he sprang to fame as Legolas in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

He stars as Will Turner, a blacksmith who is in love with the wealthy Elizabeth Swann (Bend It Like Beckham's Keira Knightley).

But when she is kidnapped by a band of cursed pirates in search of Aztec gold, Will is forced to spring to the rescue - with rogue pirate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in tow.

As Bloom reveals, however, he almost missed out on the chance to star in the film.

Tempting script

"I was committed to doing The Calcium Kid, a small British film," he says, "and as the director of that is a friend I didn't want to let him down".

"When I got the Pirates script I didn't want to tempt myself with it.

"But I was working in Australia on Ned Kelly at the time and my co-star in that, Geoffrey Rush (who stars in Pirates as the evil Captain Barbossa), said it was a great role and I had to read it".

Not that it was plain sailing from that point.

"I picked up a few scrapes from the sword fight," Bloom admits, "but one of the hardest things was learning the routines. That was intimidating".

Knightley also found herself thrown in at the deep end when it came to stunts, thanks to the film's director Gore Verbinski.

Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley has emerged as a star in the US thanks to the film

"I thought when I first read the script that I would have a really easy time of it, just sit around and pout a bit and scream a lot and it would all be fine - but Gore had other plans and thought it would be great if I tried to do as much of it as possible.

"So I ended up climbing up ships and jumping off the other side and hitting people with golden poles - which actually was great fun".

The pair also had the chance to work with Johnny Depp, who almost steals the film as the flamboyant Jack Sparrow - so much so that there's already talk of him nabbing nominations come next year's awards season.

Huge hit

"Actually, his character didn't really read like that on the page," Bloom says. "I felt really privileged to see how he goes about creating a character. And it could so easily not have worked but his performances always do".

For Knightley, being part of the film was a whole new experience compared to the low-budget Bend It Like Beckham.

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp: Bloom and Knightley are big fans

"We had 50 crew members on that and this was much bigger - so we could take our time with things. The football scenes in Bend It Like Beckham were shot really quickly, but on this some of the effects scenes took two weeks to film".

Most notably, it's given Bloom another huge hit following the Lord Of The Rings films and turned Knightley into a huge star. But how do the seemingly down-to-earth pair handle their new found fame?

"I just think it's great to have the opportunity to do what we want to do, and to work with people like Johnny Depp," Knightley says.

"There are 'pinch me' moments when you can't believe it's all happened, but you take each day at a time and try to have as much fun as possible".

Bloom is similarly philosophical. "A lot of it is about opportunity and timing," he says.

"I trained in a class of very talented actors, and everyone has an area of excellence. It's just a question of when they get to show it. Certainly the opportunities for both of us came early on."

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