He is saying this because we've gotten through a lot of the work questions. We've covered his childhood, and his energetic remodeling of his new London home. There's an elephant in the room. It might be blonde. It might be raven-haired. We're not really sure.

"There's all this noise that happens," he says, by way of sidestepping the pachyderm. "I was 22 when I got The Lord of the Rings. Nobody tells you what it is like to be famous—there's no guidebook, you know what I mean?" He is not saying that to justify his own guardedness with the media; he has been a steady promoter of each of his films and is no more tight-lipped in interviews than any other film actor. He is saying it to be polite, to explain his wariness. He's more specific when he talks about the Crusades epic Kingdom of Heaven: "When you're [almost] 27 years old and Fox greenlights a movie with a budget of $150 million with you as the headliner, that's a tribute. And then all the press afterward was like I hadn't come through on something, sort of like I hadn't delivered. But what did I not come through on?"

He regroups from this uncomfortable digression like a resilient real-life Legolas: "I have the patience to trust my own journey. Life is going to unfold as it should because life always does. If I'm true to myself, then all the rest is like, fuck it, man."

I tell him he sounds like a Buddhist.

"I am a Buddhist," he says.

Bloom says he's adhered to the Soka Gakkai school of Buddhism, a powerful Japanese movement based on the teachings of the 13th-century monk Nichiren, since he was 19. When the British tabloids first heard about Bloom's practice, they said he was a member of a cult. Bloom was deeply offended.

"The philosophy that I've embraced isn't about sitting under a tree and studying my navel, it's about studying what is going on in my daily life and using that as fuel to go and live a bigger life. When your girlfriend dumps you, when the bill comes through the door, and your mom calls you and tells you she can't handle the stuff in her life—that's hell, but that's just one world. If you are aware of what is going on, then you can grow and use that hunger, that fear."

In January, just after his birthday, Bloom felt a fear creeping up all around him, a sense that he was beginning to lose himself a little. He caught that "whiff of invincibility" that comes with seeing yourself on billboards, 90 feet tall. So before the Pirates 3 media maelstrom, he flew to Patagonia and boarded a Norwegian icebreaker bound for Antarctica. He spent three weeks sleeping in a bunk above his cousin Sebastian Copeland, who is working on a book about the area. He slept most of the day in a bus-shelter-size cabin, reading koans, meditating, and climbing up on deck occasionally as the ship drifted south. He shared a toilet and a shower with about 15 other dudes. The Argentine crew, some with pirate names like Omega Negra, the Black Ant, and Captain Jorge, worked the frozen deck and shouted orders at the handsome actor in Spanish.