LONDON - When you first heard that Orlando Bloom was starring in the new big screen adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' "The Three Musketeers" it would be natural to assume that the former "Pirates of the Caribbean" swashbuckler would be playing one of the title heroes.  Instead, Bloom is playing one of the film's main two villains, the notorious Duke of Buckingham.

Catching up with Bloom last weekend in London, the 34-year-old actor volunteered, "I think people potentially thought me for one of the 'Musketeers.'  This is much more exciting for me.  To play a little bit of a bad boy."

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (the "Resident Evil" series), this version of "The Three Musketeers" doesn't take itself too seriously and features an almost hyper-real, steampunk inspired aesthetic with over-the-top costumes and fantastical flying ships (thanks to Leonardo Da Vinci mind you).  As Buckingham, Bloom is in cahoots with the King of France's most trusted advisor, Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz), to take over England's long time adversary.  

"Historically, the Duke of Birmingham was the King [of England's] favorite courtier," Bloom says. "He had a questionable sexual background.  He liked to display his wealth.  His jewels.  He is a bit like The Godfather.  You know how 'You can't mess with me because I have people who will squash you.' So, that allowed me to have a lot of arrogance and attitude and swagger and sway and just go, 'F-it. I'm just going to go for it.'"

After a long break following his last two "Pirates" films, Bloom has had a very busy 2011.  Besides "Three Musketeers," he's returned to New Zealand to reprise his role as Legolas in Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit."  This was a big surprise as the character was not in J.R.R. Tolkien's original novel.  I asked when he first heard that he'd be in the film and how long he had to keep it a secret.  Bloom couldn't remember the exact time frame, except that it was "awhile ago" and right after Guillermo Del Toro left the project.  He remarked, "I know Pete and I know how he likes to keep secrets so I know my life is on the line if I say anything actually."

And it doesn't sound like Legolas is just making a cameo.  Bloom wouldn't say anything about the part, but he's going back and forth to New Zealand and will return to film again in February. More importantly, Bloom admits he's having the "best time."

"It's like going back to the family," Bloom says. "It's unchanged. It's bigger and better in many ways, but it's unchanged in that there are the same familiar faces not only in Pete, Fran and Philippa who are the writers, directors and producers and everything, but everyone is the same family machine. So, you just go, 'Wow, so that's what you look like after 10 years.'"

You can watch my entire interview with Bloom embedded in the post above.

"The Three Musketeers" opens nationwide in 3-D Oct. 21.

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