L.A. made him do it.
In a Sunday Times of London feature this past weekend, written by Hannah Swerling, the actor Orlando Bloom, 44, described a “typical” day in his Southern California dream life – with his fiancée, the singer Katy Perry; their seven-month-old baby girl, Daisy Dove; and his 10-year-old son from a previous marriage, Flynn (Bloom and his ex-wife, the Australian model Miranda Kerr, share custody) – that is so over the top, social media blew a gasket trying to determine if it was real or parody. But I knew instantly it was real, because I have lived in L.A.
Bloom wakes at 6:30 a.m. and checks his sleep tracker app. He “eye-gazes” with Daisy (no mention of diaper-gazing). He chants for 20 minutes, an ancient component of his Buddhist practice, then posts about it on Instagram, a less-ancient addition. He glugs down “green powders mixed with brain octane oil and collagen for my hair and nails,” and then takes a hike, listening to Stone Temple Pilots (maybe that’s why people assumed it was parody?). At 9 a.m. he breakfasts on “porridge, a little hazelnut milk, cinnamon, vanilla paste, hazelnuts, goji berries, and vegan protein powder,” and then puts on “real pants” to dream up projects for his development deal with Amazon, which he hopes will include “roles for myself and others – for minorities and women.”
He eats a plant-based lunch made by “a team of people.” He reads scripts, takes breaks to build Lego cars – he enjoys the “methodical nature” of it – and lifts heavy weights. Then it’s baby to bed (again, no mention of who’s been eye-gazing with her all day; perhaps it’s the “team of people”), dinner with Perry, a movie “for work” and lights off at 11. So you understand why Twitter resounded with words like “cringe,” “pseud,” “pretentious twaddle,” and comparisons to Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan’s smarm-meister) and Patrick Bateman (American Psycho).
You could argue that the brain octane oil hasn’t kicked in yet. But I’m telling you, Bloom’s privilege, and the way it warps people, is not rare out there. You pull into that city and within 20 minutes you’re at the Tonic Bar at Erewhon, swapping collagen powders with fourth-generation personal trainers, wondering why the valet is taking so long. The weather is great every day, the air smells like eucalyptus, the blooming jacarandas line the streets like fluffy purple leis. Everyone looks so good (the world’s most beautiful people have been breeding there for 100 years); everyone has so much. Once a year there’s a day when the strawberry crop peaks, and the supermarkets are lined with tablesful of pints for 39 cents, and the scent when you walk through the doors nearly knocks you over.
Anyone in L.A. might be the Next Big Thing, so everyone is pleasant. There are no contradictions – you can be a Buddhist and a Capricorn and build Lego on Amazon’s dime; you can internalize rhetoric about “women and minorities,” and be performative, and be sincere, and it’s all just fascinating. There are hassles, sure; there are economic and racial realities and inequalities; too many people are overworked and underpaid while others have ridiculous abundance. But the sun is glinting off the windshield of your climate-controlled car, so it’s easy not to see that stuff. Because it’s season-less, it also feels frictionless, as if you dived into a pool when you were 22 and emerged at the other end 50 years later, yet no time had passed.
That’s also the worst thing about L.A. Success there is so vast and limitless that my husband and I used to get greed headaches, from idling at red lights next to too many Bugattis and Rolls-Royces. It’s easy to fall into the misconception that, because you have all this, you somehow deserve it. It’s why an Armie Hammer can dare to act defensive because a woman says she didn’t want the sexual thing he wanted at the moment he wanted it – because he’s him! And it’s good to be him! So what he wants must therefore be good!
As for Bloom, self-reflection takes up precisely one sentence in Swerling’s article: “I had this remarkable opening chapter to my career,” he admits, “for which I was only semi-present.” Meaning, at age 22, he was cast as Legolas, one of literature’s coolest characters, in The Lord of the Rings, one of filmdom’s biggest franchises. He followed that two years later with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. So where does one go from there? Where is there to go?
Bloom may have been the most gorgeous fella in his native Canterbury, Kent, but what makes him stand out in a place where everyone is gorgeous? He’s gone as far west as he can, dangling his toes off the edge of North America, and he has all the things people dream of: money, check; access, check; adoration, check. What is left to want?
He’s lucky to have that Amazon deal. I’m still haunted by an interview I did with Vanessa Williams in the early 2000s. She told me that, as an actress, she’d peaked in 1996 with Eraser, opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger; as a singer, she’d had a No. 1 hit in 1992 with Save the Best for Last, but her record label was no longer interested in her genre. “I have to accept that that may have been it – it may be over for me,” she said candidly. She was 40. (In 2006, when she strutted onto the series Ugly Betty, I was genuinely relieved for her.) Developing a series, however, can take anywhere from a few months to forever, so it’s actually not weird that Bloom has to take frequent breaks from it, to assemble children’s toys, in order to feel that he’s getting something done.
Today, Bloom might be scarfing goji berries with vanilla paste and hazelnuts, but the Earth still spins around the sun, and he’s still getting older, and newer, shinier people are always filling in behind him. One day soon he’s going to have to find the next brain oil and the next weights routine and the next nut milk, just like he found the next kale and the next acai (though not, apparently, the next music). And good grief, what if he can’t? What if it stops working? How will he fill that Pacific Palisades-sized hole in his soul? Bloom’s “typical” today has everything he wants. So what the heck is he going to do tomorrow?
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