While Orlando Bloom's good looks have helped rather than hindered his career, the "Lord of the Rings" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" star is more than okay with undergoing facial scarring as part of the job on "Haven," an independent film he stars in and produces.
"I wanted to lose an eye," reveals the British actor. "I wasn't allowed and I should have been because I'm the producer, right? Actually, you know why I didn't? Because there wasn't enough time. The makeup girl did ... an incredible job of doing that scar, which I thought was really effective. But to lose an eye and everything else, it would have taken too long."
In the film, Bloom's character Shy is a carefree young fisherman in the Cayman Islands who finally makes love to his girlfriend Andrea (Zoe Saldana). Her affluent family, however, is extremely protective, and her brother Hammer (Anthony Mackie) retaliates by flinging a corrosive chemical in Shy's face, burning the skin surrounding his left eye.
Shy becomes moody and reclusive, only communicating with Andrea by phone, while she deals with his abandonment and her family's disapproval by doing drugs and engaging in meaningless sex with a revolving door of partners.
"There's a line where she says, 'Have you ever been in love?' to this therapist," says Bloom, "and you feel the pain in that moment that this young girl who is just heartbroken. When you're young and you're in love and it doesn't work out, it hurts. It feels like it's life-threatening pain.
"The purity of their connection is one that is sort of tainted by the opinion of the world outside -- the father, the brother, everyone having an opinion about it and not being good with it. And it's what ultimately destroys it. So, this love was crushed. The fallout of that is a kid gets disfigured, she disfigures herself from the inside really, and rejects it all."
In a parallel plot line, corrupt businessman Carl Ridley (Bill Paxton) is on the run with teenage daughter Pippa (Agnes Bruckner) in tow and hides out in his Cayman Islands bungalow. She befriends native Caymanian Fritz (Victor Rasuk), whose life becomes intertwined with the Ridleys when a desperate need for cash leads him to make a move on Carl's stash.
"Some people have said it's a bit too hardcore and raw for teenage audiences," says Bloom, "and I go 'You know what? It deals with the issues of teenage life, of growing up in this culture.' You go on holiday to the Caribbean islands and you see one side of it. You're there to relax by the pool, get your drink served. You go to the beach or to the bar. You don't really understand what the underbelly of that island is like. In this movie you get to see that. The Cayman Islands is a relatively peaceful environment, a safe environment in fact, but it happens everywhere. It's real life."
Although Bloom learned that he needed dexterity in order to scale fish for his role, he found other aspects about his character easier to grasp.
"I grew up like any other kid trying to find my place in the world and wanting to make a mark and have been confronted by other kids, or the jealousies," he says. "We all have that. Each kid has an area of excellence and sometimes people take a stab at that because of envy or greed or bitterness."
Bloom enjoyed his first taste as a producer on the film as well, beginning when he met the young writer-director Frank E. Flowers, who rewrote the character Shy specifically for the Hollywood star. The actor doesn't have any immediate plans to create his own production shingle, but would enjoy wearing the producer's hat in the future.
"I'd love to. In a way I feel like I've been so fortunate at such a young age to be a part of so many fantastically huge movies," says Bloom. "But anyone at my age being a part of those movies can only really be a passenger. You know what I mean? You hitch your ride onto the end of the roller coaster and you're whiplashed all over the back of it. And being part of this production, I really felt for the first time that I was in control.
"Now, I actually want to take a breath and make choices that I feel really good about and come back to what it was that excited me in the first place. Making movies like 'Haven' with Zoe and this great cast and getting to be a family on it was wonderful. I really want to get into the driver's seat. I'm turning 30 and I want to do that, whether they fly or flail or float or whatever they do, I want to enjoy them. I'd like to continue to do that whilst hopefully making other movies as well."
"Haven" opens in limited release on Friday, Sept. 15.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times