Nearly 20 years after his breakout role, the actor returns to the big-screen battlefield.
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The Outpost
Credit: Screen Media

Warning: This article contains light spoilers for the new film The Outpost.

Before his memorable turns as Legolas in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Orlando Bloom had a breakout role in the Academy Award-winning war drama Black Hawk Down. Almost 20 years later, the actor found a special connection between that early role and his latest film, The Outpost.

"The bar was pretty high; it's one of my favorite films that I've worked on," Bloom tells EW of Black Hawk, which hit theaters in 2001. "It was interesting because in Black Hawk Down I played a guy that has a tragic fall from a helicopter. It's part of what creates the catalyst to the end. And in [The Outpost], similarly, my character Keating has a tragic accident but was a remarkable man."

Set during the Afghanistan War, The Outpost stars Bloom as First Lt. Benjamin Keating. The climax of the film retells the events of Oct. 3, 2009, when a force of 400 Taliban insurgents assaulted Keating's crew of 53 soldiers in Kamdesh. Sgt. Clinton Romesha (played in the film by Scott Eastwood) and Ty Carter (Caleb Landry Jones) are vastly outnumbered, but Keating, who dies before the fateful battle, spiritually guides them, contributing in memory and legacy to the troops' eventual victory.

In Black Hawk Down, which chronicles the bloody fallout of a 1993 U.S. military raid in Mogadishu amid the civil war in Somalia, Bloom played 18-year-old Pfc. Todd Blackburn. As depicted in the film and the 1999 book it's based on, Blackburn and his fellow soldiers saw the U.S. military's most intense close combat since the Vietnam War.

Black Hawk Down
Credit: SIDNEY BALDWIN/Columbia

Similarly, The Outpost centers on one of the bloodiest battles of the Afghanistan War. Bloom recalls his initial meeting with director Rod Lurie, who described Keating as "a sort of intuitive man who brought his men along. He didn't stand above them. He didn't hold things against them. He was a beloved leader of the land."

Before filming, Bloom spent time connecting with Keating's father to understand the man he was portraying, and how calm and controlled Keating really was. As the film depicts, Keating had spent time engaging the locals in community development projects before the battle. For research, Bloom was also given letters addressed to Keating from fellow military men. "I almost felt his presence around me," Bloom says. "I really wanted to do justice to this remarkable man. He was a man who took responsibility."

It's a sentiment Eastwood felt about his character, too. Romesha "was as humble as he was determined," he says. "He was going to win even if that meant dying in the process. The man is just an exceptional example of heroism."

These men have all been recognized in their own way. Romesha and Carter were awarded Medals of Honor for their actions during the Battle of Kamdesh, and the base where the battle occurred was named Combat Outpost Keating, in Keating's honor.

The Outpost is out now in limited theatrical release and on VOD.

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