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How Orlando Bloom’s Buddhist practice helped lead him ‘To the Edge’ in new adventure show

“As a philosophy and as a practice, it’s something that’s definitely been the anchor in my life,” he tells
Orlando Bloom
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

Orlando Bloom may be most well known for his roles in “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Lord of the Rings,” but viewers will see a new side of the actor as he takes on three extreme sports in a matter of weeks in his new show, “Orlando Bloom: To the Edge.”

While Bloom goes rock climbing, wingsuiting and free diving — meaning without an oxygen tank — to about 102 feet below sea level, he's also often reciting Buddhist chants before embarking on each adventure.

Viewers might be surprised to find out Bloom has been practicing Buddhism for more than 30 years. The 47-year-old tells how his faith played a role in “To the Edge,” now streaming on Peacock. (Peacock is a part of’s parent company, NBCUniversal.)

“As a philosophy and as a practice, it’s something that’s definitely been the anchor in my life,” Bloom says.

He starts by sharing the meaning of “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo,” the chant he recites throughout the three episodes: “It means, ‘I bring myself in tune with the rhythm of the universe through the vibration of sound.’”

Bloom, a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism and a follower of the Soka Gakkai organization, says he likes the philosophy that the Buddha believed would lead all living beings to enlightenment in their current lifetime.

“At its core, it’s about respecting all living beings,” he says. “And I liked that as a roadmap. I always wanted a roadmap, and in a way, this practice has been that for me.”

Orlando Bloom
Orlando Bloom has been practicing Buddhism since he was 16.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Bloom’s ‘art to living’

Bloom says he discovered Buddhism when he was working with an artist on painting and drawing when he was 16. Ahead of his school exams, he heard his mentor chanting “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.”

“I just said to him one day, ‘What are you doing?’” Bloom recalls. “And he said, ‘I’m chanting that you’re going to do really well in your exams, and then you’re going to have a really successful life.’”

Bloom asked if it would actually help, and his mentor said it would, so Bloom decided to start his own practice.

“I just never stopped because I found it to be very, very helpful to me,” he says. “If there is an art to living, I found that the philosophy and this practice is, for me, the art.”

But that doesn't mean his faith has remained constant over the course of 30 years — he says he questions his faith "every day."

“Ten times a day. Ten times a second. All day, every day. There’s no moment I’m not — constantly,” he says.

“It’s not like I chant ‘Nam-myoho-renge-kyo’ to be, like, levitating,” he adds with a laugh. “No, I chant ‘Nam-myoho-renge-kyo’ to survive my life and everything that happens in life. Chanting helps me to navigate the nastiness.”

Bloom says he wanted to incorporate his faith into “To the Edge” because it makes him focus on each experience in life.

Orlando Bloom: To The Edge - Season 1
Orlando Bloom free dives in his adventure series "To the Edge."Peacock

“What my chanting of ‘Nam-myoho-renge-kyo’ does is, it just focuses me,” he says. “It has me open my mind to the experience, to be present to the moment, to go with the flow.”

And while some may think the idea of Buddhism is the opposite of trying extreme sports, Bloom says his faith grounded him ahead of the intense moments seen on the show.

“I’ve had this practice since I was 16, and it’s an amazing tool to keep me present, focused and grateful for what’s right in front of me because I think, sometimes, we can forget that all of the obstacles in our life are really opportunities for our growth,” he says.

“When you’re right in it, it’s like, ‘Why is this happening? What am I doing? Why was this a good idea?’ And I just mean in everyday life, by the way,” he continues.

But while filming moments of “abject fear, or a heightened sense of pressure,” on “To the Edge,” Bloom says his chant became something he relied on.

“I find it was a perfect tool for me, and it just so happened that I was doing it, so it became part of what you saw me do on the show,” he says.

Inside ‘To the Edge’

Orlando Bloom: To The Edge - Season 1
Orlando Bloom rock climbs in the third episode of "To the Edge."Peacock

Of the three sports — wingsuiting, free diving and rock climbing — he says wingsuiting was “one of the most heightened moments” of his physical experience on the show.

Bloom says there wasn't anyone in his life who was completely against him attempting the extreme stunts seen in the show, but his partner, Katy Perry, did have some hesitations.

“I think my partner was, like, not entirely sure what I was doing until I came home, freaking out, and then she was like, ‘OK, that’s crazy,’” he says. “But she’s happy now. And she saw it all.”

The pop superstar FaceTimed her beau several times throughout the show, and came in person to watch him go wingsuiting for the first time.

Perry hugged Bloom after his wobbly flight, before playfully saying he looked like “a flying wombat.”

As for the other episodes, Bloom says he found free diving “mentally and emotionally challenging, but also rather beautiful in its own way,” while rock climbing was “just a brutal grind.”

Bloom mentions the moment at the end of his climb, which had been selected specially for him, when he was standing on top of ancient art.

“I never felt so connected as I did in that moment,” Bloom says. “It was probably a combination of all three (stunts) coming together.”

He added: “From doing these things, you learn to become capable, and that’s something that I wanted.”