Another Bloom on the drama scene: Samantha
By Josephine Walker
Orlando Bloom would be a hard act to follow in anyone’s book: doubly hard if you are his elder sister! So this must be a challenging time for his sister Samantha as she prepares to emerge from Guildhall School of Music and Drama in a few weeks time, at the end of June – when she will be looking to find herself a niche to launch a career in the daunting world of theatre and film.
Brother Orlando, of Legolas fame and recently starring as Paris in the newest blockbuster of the summer, Troy, went to see his sister perform earlier this year at Guildhall School of Music and Drama at the Barbican – where, as a third year drama student, she gave a talented performance as The Abbess in Measure for Measure and also as Vi in The Memory of Water (Shelagh Stevenson). Impressed, he was heard to say “Sam has that special quality which cannot be taught. She has a great presence.”
During her three years training at Guildhall to obtain a BA (Hons) in Drama, Samantha was awarded the Kitchenham Bursary, the Vans Beers Bursary and the Huddart Bursary. Next week, she appears as Mrs. Trevis in Afore Night Come by David Rudkin.
Sam’s ambition is to develop as a good versatile actress first and foremost, and to gain as much experience as possible in both theatre, film,TV. Like her brother Orlando, her first successful experiences at acting as a child were at the annual competitive Kent Festivals, held in her home town of Canterbury where she won trophies and certificates for poetry recitals, mum, group acting and Bible-reading. She also acted in a local acting group for juniors called SMAD, which made her realise her love for acting. “That she was a gifted and greatly sensitive actress at that early age was without doubt,” said her drama teacher.
In her early teens both at Kent College, Canterbury, where she was a pupil until the age of 16, and then at Prior Park College, Bath, she would be singled out for both Shakespearian and character roles. “Samantha was unforgettable as The Queen in Hamlet at Prior Park School, Bath, where she spent her sixth form year,” said a friend. And she loved to make people laugh in comedy parts and character roles.” She was awarded a place in London University to study French, and somehow her ambition to become an actress was not realized: but after spending a year becoming fluent in French, and then trying her hand at film production, she realized that the ambition to act would just not go away. She recalls being a runner for RSA Films, owned by Ridley Scott, who is now directing Orlando as the lead in a film about the Crusades, The Kingdom of Heaven, and this was followed by a spell as Assistant on Captain Corelli’s Mondolin for the production company Working Title. But she knew she could not be happy until she had given herself the chance to go back to her love of acting.
Although she was accepted by most of the major acting schools she applied for, she chose Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where her brother had also been trained. One of the Drama teachers commented: “Although we were delighted that Samantha applied to us, we were harder on her in those initial interviews than on the others: there was certainly no favouritism because of her brother.”
Has having a brother who is fast becoming a household name, made an impact on her? “Yes and no,” she said. “Of course, as a family we are all delighted with his continuing success and even more by the way he refuses to let his success undermine his endeavours to fulfil his ambition to be a good actor. I realise its going to be a whole lot more difficult for me – just seeing the talent in my own class is daunting. The whole training at Guildhall has been far tougher than I could have imagined but it’s a life-changing experience. “
However, she is constantly reminded about the number of female actresses there are and the smaller number of parts for them, which makes it a notoriously tough profession. “Yes, it’s a daunting thought – but I will never regret the experience.” Most people know the story of Orlando’s great fortune in landing the part of Legolas on the day he graduated from Guildhall in June 1999. “Everybody has impressed on me that what happened to Orlando was a one in a million piece of good luck – but it’s up to everyone to make the most of any lucky break and that is certainly what he has done.”
What are her dreams for the future? “It would be wonderful just to be working as an actress full stop! I am particularly keen on Shakespeare – but, if you are asking about dreams, I love the idea of having a part in some of the wonderful films emerging these days or working in repertory, or on some of the great drama being made for television. I seem to gravitate towards character acting – but just to be working to gain more experience would be great.” Meanwhile, she has been invited to be part of the production team of the World Premiere Play-through at the Old Vic on 27th June of the play Who Killed Mr. Drum by Sylvester Stein.
“Whether or not I get lucky is in the lap of the gods….I imagine having a successful brother as an actor may make everything that much more difficult for me – but its much too early to know any of these things yet. Very obviously, I am hoping for a little sprinkle of good luck to come my way – but does luck visit a family twice?” she said and flashed us such a beautiful smile – that somehow one felt it just may!”