By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist January 28, 2011 at 2:12AM
Kerry Condon Also Joins, Dominic Cooper and Hayley Atwell Out
For a time at the beginning of the 21st century, it seemed that you couldn't get a blockbuster period piece greenlit without the presence of British star Orlando Bloom. After breaking out as badass elf Legolas in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Bloom turned up in "Troy," "Kingdom of Heaven" and the first three "Pirates of the Caribbean" films -- hell, even Cameron Crowe anointed him as the star of his contemporary rom-com "Elizabethtown."
Unfortunately, we all know how that one turned out, and it became increasingly clear over time that Bloom's performances were whittled from a mighty oak -- sure, he could look pretty and swing a sword, but emoting? Not so much. Bloom's now been pretty much absent from the big-screen for four years, outside of a brief cameo in "New York, I Love You," and a role in the still-undistributed Mark Ruffalo-helmed "Sympathy for Delicious."
But with three roles coming up in 2011, including a villainous turn in Paul W.S. Anderson's "The Three Musketeers," and a reprisal of Legolas in "The Hobbit" looking likely, the Bloom comeback is in full force, and hopefully the actor has used his time away to, well, learn how to act. He'll face his biggest challenge in a newly announced project, in which the actor will play legendary war poet Robert Graves.
Screen Daily announces that Bloom will topline "The Laureate," a project from Media 8 ("Running Scared") and writer/director William Nunez, which shows the love triangle between Graves, his wife, the artist Nancy Nicholson, and the American poet Laura Riding. The three lived together in Cairo and London in an open triangle for many years, until Graves began to favor Riding. Bloom will be joined by Playlist favorite Imogen Poots (the upcoming "Fright Night"), who'll play Riding, and rising Irish star Kerry Condon ("The Last Station"), who'll play Nicholson.
When the project was first announced at Cannes last year, the "Captain America" duo of Dominic Cooper and Hayley Atwell were attached, but both have fallen off due to scheduling conflicts. Director Nunez says that: "At its core, 'The Laureate' will be a study of intense relationships: what created them, what can undo them, what they encompass, what they can alter, and what they can’t."
It certainly seems like there's plenty of drama here to sustain a decent period drama (albeit one that sounds not unlike the John Maybury-helmed Dylan Thomas biopic "The Edge of Love" from a few years back), and Condon and Poots are certainly terrific actresses, even if Nunez is something of an unknown quantity, and swapping in Bloom for Cooper is something of a step down, to say the least. There's no word on when filming will kick off, although Media 8 will start to lure buyers at the European Film Market next month.