6 JANUARY 2005

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As stills from his latest movie Kingdom Of Heaven are released, hunky Lord Of The Rings actor Orlando Bloom looks set to further expand his enormous fan base.

In the Crusades epic the 27-year-old star plays a man who finds himself thrust into a war in a strange land, defending the city of Jerusalem and falling for a forbidden queen. It's a role which perfectly combines the actor's legendary thirst for action with the romantic scenes which set hearts aflutter across the globe.

According to Rings co-star Dominic Monaghan, Orlando "doesn't necessarily feels like a sex symbol", but his hordes of devoted female fans would apparently beg to differ. Over 500 letters a week are dealt with by the actor's fan "team", as the Orlando's mum who set up the organisation prefers to call it.

"The letters come from people of all ages," says Sonia Bloom, "from eight to 60 or 70, but mainly from the nine to 25 range. Most are asking for a photograph, often to auction for charity, and Orlando thinks it's great to be able to help.

"Sometimes I drop off a sack of the mail to some of the ladies in Canterbury who have known him since he was a child, and they love to send out the replies."

While he may be the hottest thing to hit Hollywood in recent years, the Canterbury-born star is not about to let his heart-throb status rule his life, however. Rather than hitting the party scene as might be expected, he is currently in a stable relationship with actress Kate Bosworth and admits to preferring a night in with friends to glitzy Tinseltown bashes.

"I'd rather just stay at home with my mates, " confesses the man behind elf king Legolas. "I like to cook, have a nice glass of wine, listen to some music with my friends. In terms of grounding it's good to have those people around you.


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His sword-wielding role in the Crusaders epic, which is due to be released in the UK in May, combines the love of action Orlando is renowned for, with a romantic encounter
Photo: Rex
Click on photos for gallery

The young knight's love interest in the film is a forbidden queen played by French actress and face of Emporio Aramani, Eva Green
Photo: Comingsoon.net

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