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Orlando Bloom puts himself in peril for new TV series

‘I was afraid for my life’ — join star on death-defying stunts

By MARK KENNEDY, Associated Press
Published: April 20, 2024, 6:04am
2 Photos
Orlando Bloom in an episode of the television series &ldquo;Orlando Bloom: To the Edge.&rdquo; (Photos by Casey Durkin/Peacock)
Orlando Bloom in an episode of the television series “Orlando Bloom: To the Edge.” (Photos by Casey Durkin/Peacock) Photo Gallery

NEW YORK — Orlando Bloom wanted to test himself for his latest adventure project. Not by eating something gross or visiting a new country. He wanted to risk death — with not one but three extreme sports.

The Peacock series “Orlando Bloom: To the Edge” sees the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star shoot through the sky thousands of feet above the ground, dive into a deep sinkhole and rockclimb hundreds of feet.

“While I was at moments scared for my life during the show, having come out the other end of it I feel way more capable,” Bloom tells The Associated Press.

The series, which debuted Thursday, was born from the pandemic, which made outside adventures even more alluring. It met the perfect host in a man who is a natural risk-taker. When he made his Broadway debut in “Romeo and Juliet,” he roared onto the stage on a Triumph motorcycle.

“I’m like a collector of experiences in some ways,” he says. “I’ve been remarkably gifted and fortunate to have some unique ones, but this was definitely like, ‘Oh, wow, I’m capable of this. Therefore I can do anything.’”

First up was wingsuiting — skydiving in a special jumpsuit that adds lift so you can glide longer before opening your parachute. Bloom’s goal was to jump out of plane at 13,000 feet, fly 3 miles over the Pacific Ocean and land on the beach.

Then he heads to the Bahamas, to a 663-foot-deep hole in the ocean, with the aim of plunging to 100 feet on just one breath. After that, it’s off to Utah to climb a 400-foot tower and stand on a summit the size of a pizza box.

“We all experience fear. It’s how we face this fear that defines us,” Bloom says in the first episode. “I never feel so alive being so close to death.”

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There were some heart-in-your throat moments, like on his seventh skydiving jump, where Bloom needed to activate his reserve chute, something that is necessary just 1 in 1,000 times. And for his 21st jump, he did it holding hands with his 80-year-old uncle, Christopher Copeland, a master skydiver.

Usually it takes 200 solo skydives before anyone is allowed to wingsuit but Bloom convinces his instructor in just two weeks. Katy Perry, his partner, is on hand for the first wobbly flight, embracing her man after he lands and lovingly calling him “a flying wombat.”

Bloom battles ear pain to attempt the 100-foot freedive and practicing a breath exercise leaves him in tears, struggling and sweating. Freediving turns out to require a slowing heart, conserving energy and relaxing — the opposite of most sports.

The rockclimbing challenge sees a usual 2-3 year training process condensed into a week. There was added stress because Bloom broke his back in a fall in his 20s and really didn’t want to do that again.

“Just remember if everything hurts and you want to puke, you’re doing it right,” an instructor helpfully tells him. Bloom also leans into his Buddhist belief, meditating and chanting in the run-up to each daredevil step.

Bloom joins a crowded field of adventure-seeking celeb TV hosts, which includes Eugene Levy, Zac Efron and Ewan McGregor.

Bloom, already a guy who went to the gym twice a day, was a quick learner and even emerged with a skydiving license. But he had one-on-one help from experts usually out of the reach of regular thrillseekers, like Maureen “Mo” Beck, a gold medal at the 2014 Spanish Paraclimbing World Championships, and Camila Jaber, the youngest female freediver to break records.

Bloom credits his instructors for their patience, expertise and teaching him to trust them and their gear. His life was in their hands but very often, their lives were in his hands.

“It wasn’t just as simple as like, ‘I’m just going to go with the flow here.’ No, I learned the tools. There are protocols,” he says. “There is a framework with which I was working. And while I was doing that, I was able to get into a rhythm, into a flow, and achieve things that I never thought I would ever do in my lifetime.”

Bloom hopes viewers will tune in to see a novice achieve remarkable feats but also to inspire them to get outside their comfort zones.

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