BEVERLY HILLS, California — British heartthrob Orlando Bloom has forged an impressive career by traveling the seven seas ("Pirates of the Caribbean"), assisting a fellowship's quest through Middle Earth ("The Lord of the Rings") and battling renegades in Somalia ("Black Hawk Down").
Now the 29-year-old hunk is making plans to embark on what could be his most hazardous mission yet: working with his girlfriend.
Bloom has signed on to "Seasons of Dust," the suddenly high-profile Tim Blake Nelson project that recently attracted Kate Bosworth too (see " 'Superman' Stars' Game Plan: Hit Up Vegas, Go Indie, Help Santa Manage Elves"). Bloom and the "Superman Returns" beauty have been involved in a tabloid-fueling on-again, off-again relationship for more than four years.
"[Nelson's] a fantastic actor and director," Bloom said of the "Syriana" character actor and director of the obscure Holocaust flick "The Grey Zone." "He's going to direct this film called 'Seasons of Dust,' which is a really cool movie, set in 1935 in the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma City. It's set during the Depression and drought. That was a real tough time in American history."
It will be the first onscreen collaboration between Bloom and his 23-year-old flame. They will be following in the footsteps of recent real-couple successes Jennifer Aniston/ Vince Vaughn ("The Break-Up") and Brad Pitt/ Angelina Jolie ("Mr. & Mrs. Smith"), while to be fair, both of those couples weren't together when filming began.
Previously, decades of bombs from "Cleopatra" to "Gigli" had led to the belief that onscreen couples were box-office poison. Now Bosworth and Bloom are determined to test their chemistry in front of moviegoers.
"It's a great piece of writing, and I'm excited to do it," Bloom added. "I play a guy who steals from bootleggers; he's kind of a rogue."
Bosworth has described the project as a hybrid of "The Grapes of Wrath," "Badlands" and "Bonnie and Clyde." With the latter two revolving around outlaw lovers on the run from authorities, their characters can be expected to be as seedy as they are steamy. Bosworth and Nelson previously collaborated on the homicide-and-porn drama "Wonderland," and the actress has expressed a desire to get equally gritty with "Dust."
"It's not a sword movie," laughed Bloom, acknowledging an excitement to sidestep his typecasting as a swords-and-sandals epic actor. "It's Oklahoma City. It's the South. It's really cool.
"It's kind of like a cowboy movie really," the actor added. "[Nelson] has awesome style, and he's a great director and fantastic writer."
Oscar-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, who directed Nelson in the Depression-South comedy "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," will serve as executive producers on the project. "Seasons of Dust" is expected to begin filming later this year, for a 2007 release.
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