Here is a piece of direction we feel confident Orlando Bloom never got from the directors of The Lord of the Rings, Kingdom of Heaven, or Troy: ''This is a Jack Lemmon moment.'' The artist formerly known as Legolas got that particular stage whisper from Billy Wilder venerator Cameron Crowe on the set of Elizabethtown, a comic drama that has its leading man living a life of quiet and, more exciting for him, present-day desperation.
''I was psyched to get to play a contemporary character,'' says Bloom, ''and a role without a sword, or a bow and arrow. But what was really amazing was getting to do that with Cameron, because he really goes on a journey of the heart.'' And a journey of the Lemmon. ''I watched The Apartment maybe five times,'' Bloom confides, sharing his inspiration for ''that kind of quirky, out-there behavior that comes out when your whole world is falling apart.''
That describes the psychological lot of Bloom's character Drew, a workaholic who suffers the double whammy of a crushing professional failure and his father's death. Then he runs into Claire (Kirsten Dunst), a stewardess who makes Drew a mixtape/map that sends him driving into the American heartland to find the meaning of life. The script ''started out being about losing my dad,'' Crowe says, ''and ended up a celebration of what it is to be truly alive. And it's still a comedy.''
Crowe's 2000 Oscar winner Almost Famous went through multiple edits on its way to the big screen (Crowe's preferred, longer ''Untitled'' cut is on DVD). But Crowe insists there'll be only one edition of Elizabethtown, and it will include all the ''in-between'' moments that ground a movie in reality. ''When I tested a shorter version, the focus group said, 'Let this movie be longer. It's not like other movies, and thank you for making something different. Put more in.' I loved that audience.''