Orlando Bloom Breaks Hearts As 'Elizabethtown' Storms The South

Fans wait for hours in Tennessee and Kentucky for a glimpse of the star.

NASHVILLE — Hollywood hit the heartland over the weekend, and everywhere it went, heartbreak wasn't far behind.

Orlando Bloom and director Cameron Crowe barnstormed the South in support of their forthcoming film, "Elizabethtown." Crowe and Music City luminaries like LeAnn Rimes, Wynonna Judd and Clint Black crowded the red carpet in Franklin, Tennessee, on Sunday night, but judging by the high-pitched screams and handcrafted signs overflowing the carpet's edge, it was clear that it was Bloom the fans had come to see.

(Click here for photos from the Nashville premiere.)

"I am so sweaty, and so tired, and so excited," 17-year-old Elizabeth McClary of Bell Buckle, Tennessee (pop. 463), said. "I've been waiting here for three hours!"

Bloom's every step was greeted with ear-piercing shrieks as he inched his way toward the Franklin Theater on Fourth and Main Streets. As a hazy sun set on the small town just 20 miles south of Nashville, Bloom mugged for every camera, waved at every fan and even managed to blot out the mocking hollers of "Legolas!" from teens camped out on the rooftops. It took him an hour to navigate the one-block-long carpet.

"Billy Wilder once told me, 'Make 'em personal,' " Crowe said of his filmmaking philosophy. "'But make 'em for the people.' "

And so the cast and crew of the film left the been-there, done-that populations of New York and Los Angeles behind and returned to the region of the country where the film was shot: the great, green hills of Kentucky and Tennessee. All weekend long, Crowe and Bloom road-tripped through the two states in fully branded "Elizabethtown" buses, drumming up support for the film.

The weekend began with events in Crowe's father's Kentucky hometown — and the film's namesake — Elizabethtown. There, beneath a cool drizzle, Crowe, wife (and Heart frontwoman) Nancy Wilson and Bloom celebrated with a barbecue, a parade and a premiere.

"I don't think [the residents of the town] really believed we'd come back," Crowe said after the screening.

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The film follows young businessman Drew Baylor (Bloom) from a career-killing fiasco, through his father's unexpected death and back home to Kentucky for the funeral. Along the way, he meets flight attendant Claire Colburn (Kirsten Dunst). A love story and, as Crowe likes to point out, "hilarity" ensue (see "Cameron Crowe: Hometown Hero").

And because it's a Cameron Crowe film, the proceedings are set to a richly realized soundtrack that includes songs from the likes of My Morning Jacket, Ryan Adams and Tom Petty.

At the record store Ear X-Tacy in Louisville, fans waited for more than six hours for Crowe's signature. When Bloom blew in to surprise his director — with Oprah show producers in tow, no less — all hell broke loose.

"They closed down Bardstown Road," store clerk Bryan Peters said. "I've never seen that happen."

Soundtrack standouts I Nine and singer/songwriter Patty Griffin performed Sunday night in Franklin. But it was all, in effect, a preamble for Bloom. With his red-carpet gauntlet behind him, he waved and smiled for the now-teary fans once more and then ducked into the theater with Crowe.

"How you holdin' up?" Crowe asked his film's star.

Bloom just sighed, smiled and exhaled.

Check out everything we've got on "Elizabethtown."

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