Why Orlando Bloom's Pirates Of The Caribbean Character Wasn't Easy To Pull Off

Playing the everyman isn't all it's cracked up to be, especially when you're playing against a larger-than-life antihero like Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow. The swashbuckler was the arguable selling point for the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, at least at first. Most fans came for Depp's swaggering, rum-gulping pirate — but they stayed for the equally-compelling characters in his orbit, like Sparrow's longtime rival Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) or star-crossed lovers Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley).

Though Bloom himself looks back fondly on his time in the "Pirates" franchise, he acknowledges that his role as a more grounded character in such a fantastical, farcical setting  didn't leave a lot of wiggle room for him. "I was playing the straight guy to Johnny [Depp's] remarkable Jack Sparrow," Bloom told The Hollywood Reporter in 2020, "but it's not easy to pull that straight guy off, do you know what I mean?"

Bloom and Knightley were essentially tasked with carrying "the emotional thread" of the series, as the romance that unfolds between their characters informs a lot of important moments in "Pirates." The duo definitely got the chance to riff a bit in their three films together. But for the most part, it was the Jack Sparrow show, and not everyone was the biggest fan of Will Turner in comparison.

At least he did his best

"When I was in my mid-20s, there [were] so many different people poking fun at me," the actor confessed. Bloom was 26 when the first "Pirates" film, "Curse of the Black Pearl," premiered in 2003, fresh off the heels of another ridiculously-lucrative franchise, "The Lord of the Rings." He spent the majority of his 20s in the limelight, dealing with more than his fair share of criticism. Now, though, he doesn't necessarily see it as a bad thing, saying, "In a way, it's a sign of appreciation." Bloom continued:

"I don't look back in anger. Nobody steps out of the door or onto a set — whoever you are, whether you're an actor, director or producer — nobody is trying to do bad work. I know when I put my head down at night, I've done my best with everything that I've ever done. I've always given it my all, and I think in a way, if anything, there was a lot of safe play in my career. I'm not really interested in that any more ... I just look forward with excitement, to be honest now."

Some of Bloom's latest roles have offered him a chance to really stretch his creative muscles in a more fulfilling way. Films like "Retaliation" and "The Outpost" help the actor to display "all the lengths and breadths that I am prepared to go to," and it's work that he hopes to continue in the future. "This is where it feels like it's going to get spicy and interesting," Bloom explained, "and where the really meaty, juicy roles come."