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"I have to focus on the work. Yes, it is 'Romeo and Juliet.' And it is epic and it is an iconic role," she says. "But the truth of it is that an icon doesn't think of themselves as an icon. They just are. I have to be the same way."
Their casting added an intriguing element of racial contrast to the classic tale of two star-crossed lovers and Leveaux decided to take it to its logical conclusion: the Capulets will be played by black actors and the Montagues by white actors.
"While it is an interracial 'Romeo and Juliet,' that's not actually something we're hammering out," Rashad says. "It's not about making it invisible. It's there. Use it! But that's actually not the core of the fight."
The play offers Bloom a chance to return to his roots on the stage. He had studied Shakespeare at London's esteemed Guildhall School of Music and Drama and was to play Duke Orsino in a production of "Twelfth Night" but a fall from a rooftop landed him instead in a hospital.
By the time he had healed, he was about to join the Royal Shakespeare Company but director Peter Jackson whisked him to New Zealand for "The Lord of the Rings" and then he was off on a movie career -- "Black Hawk Down," the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, "Elizabethtown" and "Kingdom of Heaven."
In a way, "Romeo and Juliet" offers Bloom a time machine back to the stage. If his co-star geeks out about Orcs, Bloom does the same about a theater and screen star who recently showed up to see him: Denzel Washington. Bloom would love to model his career on Washington and return to the stage.
"I feel like this is what I was supposed to be doing or at least part of what I was supposed to be doing. I found myself doing movies -- which were wonderful and amazing and I love -- I've got a collection of movies at home that my son is going to absolutely drool over when he's the right age," he says.
"But for Orlando and for the actor in me, this process is so rewarding and I just feel like I'm going to be a different actor after this. I already feel like a different actor."
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