Although Orlando Bloom doesn't lack for attention -- especially the teenage girl variety -- it's easy to overlook the British actor in a film co-starring Johnny Depp doing his outrageous pirate thing.
In "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," however, Bloom's character Will Turner isn't just the wishy-washy romantic lead, living in the swashbuckling Captain Jack Sparrow's (Depp) shadow this time. Just before he and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) can be wed, they're unjustly jailed, forcing Will to strike a deal for their freedom: He's to retrieve a special compass that Jack always carries on his person. This sets Will off on a series of his own seafaring adventures.
"He goes from being a strait-laced kind of upright stick in the mud to becoming more of a bit of a pirate in this one, thankfully," says Bloom. "It was kind of like discovering my inner pirate for the first time."
The sequel also allows Will to grow emotionally, questioning his infantile, story book romance with Elizabeth. Their love story echoes that of legendary pirate Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), who locked his heart in a box so his more tender emotions wouldn't make him vulnerable.
"In the second movie, we are dealing with real life. You deal with jealousy. You deal with how they are going to end up," says Bloom. "For them to survive, it's an interesting parallel which gets more elaborated in the third film, which is the love story of Davy Jones and why did he pull out his heart? And how that relates to the love story of Elizabeth and Will. I mean, are they on the same path and are they going to pull out of that nosedive?"
But any self-respecting pirate movie doesn't just deal with girly emotions; there's plenty of action as well. Bloom's guardian angel was put to the test once again for several scenes, including one in which he and other pirates are confined in a spherical cage made of victims' bones and another in which he swordfights atop and inside a rolling waterwheel, which he found the most challenging.
"Going upside down and stuff and swordfighting in there, I was all harnessed so I couldn't fall out, obviously," he says. "But it's just like, because of gravity, you're really reaching and at one point ... it's pulling you the other way. The bone cage was merely uncomfortable. Know what I mean? It was like running with that thing between your legs. You're watching for the crown jewels the whole time."
The notoriously accident-prone Bloom -- who once fell three stories, was told he wouldn't walk again but recovered so he could crack a rib a year later on the "Lord of the Rings" set -- came away unscathed this time. For the most part, his film career consists of boyhood fantasy type roles: a Tolkien elf, a pirate, an outlaw in "Ned Kelly," a Greek prince in "Troy" and a 12th-century warrior in "Kingdom of Heaven." And even though he had to wear heavy chain mail for his last film, standing around in soaking pirate gear was much more uncomfortable.
"It doesn't matter if you're in the Caribbean. The rain that comes out of those rain machines is cold," he insists. "It's big drops and it's cold in the Caribbean. If you're soaking wet for like nine hours, it's cold and miserable. That was hard work. Dry and hot in the desert in chain mail wasn't comfortable, but I'd take that over soaking wet freezing my n-n-nuts off any day."
The good-natured actor, who's currently dating "Superman Returns" actress Kate Bosworth, isn't complaining though. Such sacrifices have won him legions of fans, mainly teenage girls, including the ones who get a little rowdy with their affection.
"Bring 'em on," he says. "Fight them off? Don't be crazy. What do I look like?"
"Pirates" boards theaters nationwide on Friday, July 7.