‘I Was Afraid for My Life’ — Orlando Bloom Puts Himself in Peril for New TV Series

 This image released by Peacock shows Chris Copeland and Orlando Bloom in an episode of the television series "Orlando Bloom: To the Edge." (Peacock via AP)
This image released by Peacock shows Chris Copeland and Orlando Bloom in an episode of the television series "Orlando Bloom: To the Edge." (Peacock via AP)
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‘I Was Afraid for My Life’ — Orlando Bloom Puts Himself in Peril for New TV Series

 This image released by Peacock shows Chris Copeland and Orlando Bloom in an episode of the television series "Orlando Bloom: To the Edge." (Peacock via AP)
This image released by Peacock shows Chris Copeland and Orlando Bloom in an episode of the television series "Orlando Bloom: To the Edge." (Peacock via AP)

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 rock climb 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 debuts 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 (3,962 meters) fly 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) over the Pacific Ocean and land on the beach.

Then he heads to the Bahamas, to a 663-foot-deep (202 meters) hole in the ocean, with the aim of plunging to 100 feet (30.5 meters) on just one breath. After that, it’s off to Utah to climb a 400-foot (122 meter) 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.”

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 (30.5 meter) 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 rock climbing 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, José Andrés, Chris Hemsworth, Will Smith, Stanley Tucci, Macaulay Culkin 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, be it perhaps by managing public speaking or learning a new language.

“For me, the idea of the show was like, ’Well, what is it for you?” he asks. “What is your version of jumping out of a plane? It doesn’t have to be physical or death defying in some form or another.”

Bloom says he's in a happy place, with a good career, a loving partner and great children. That made the stakes even higher for the new series.

“I’m very grateful for my life,” he says. “I’m even more grateful having survived ‘Orlando Bloom: To the Edge.’”



A Grandmother Goes for High-Action Stunts in 'Thelma'

Cast member June Squibb attends the world premiere of the film "Inside Out 2" in Los Angeles, California, US, June 10, 2024. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo
Cast member June Squibb attends the world premiere of the film "Inside Out 2" in Los Angeles, California, US, June 10, 2024. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo
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A Grandmother Goes for High-Action Stunts in 'Thelma'

Cast member June Squibb attends the world premiere of the film "Inside Out 2" in Los Angeles, California, US, June 10, 2024. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo
Cast member June Squibb attends the world premiere of the film "Inside Out 2" in Los Angeles, California, US, June 10, 2024. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

At 94 years old, actor June Squibb had to convince filmmakers that she could do a lot of her own stunts in the action-packed comedy film "Thelma," about a grandmother seeking revenge.
"It was great fun, and I came into it having read the script and deciding, 'Well, I think I could do that,'" Squibb said.
She did almost all of the motor scooter stunts and a physically demanding scene in an antique store, Reuters said.
The Magnolia Pictures film, directed by Josh Margolin, follows a grandmother named Thelma who goes on a stunt-filled rampage to seek revenge against telephone scammers who took $10,000 of her savings.
The film also stars Fred Hechinger, who portrays Thelma's grandson.
Margolin said Squibb channeled her "inner Tom Cruise" very effectively as she became more and more comfortable doing her own stunts as filming progressed.
"I got more crazy about it," Squibb said, noting that while she may be in her 90s, she feels 35.
"Thelma" arrives in theaters on Friday.
Squibb's level of energy was not surprising to Hechinger after seeing her work prior to filming "Thelma."
"We met before we started filming, we just developed a friendship and a kind of artistic kinship, so I was well aware of her magic," Hechinger said.
Coming from a career spanning from Broadway to film and television, Squibb has portrayed a diversity of roles throughout her decades-long career. She was nominated for an Academy Award as best supporting actress for the 2013 film "Nebraska."
While the film is a comedy, for Margolin, it sheds light on how many elderly people are targeted by scammers, including his own grandmother.
"My grandma got a call like that, my family got concerned like that, and then luckily in real-life we were able to step in before she sent the money," Margolin said.
"The things she's doing are fictionalized but the character is still very drawn from a lot of elements of my real grandma, and little moments and little details and little phrases are kind of woven throughout there," Margolin added.
The film currently has a 98% rating on the review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes, with many critics praising Squibb's performance.
For Squibb, it's especially important that women around her age can see the movie.
"We have been at screenings, and especially older women are seeing it and coming out just glowing. They just are enjoying it so much," Squibb said.
"One woman showed us what she would do if she had a scooter. She went through the whole thing of riding a scooter for us. I just think that's wonderful. I'm so proud of that, that someone can see it and it can give them such joy," Squibb added.