Orlando Bloom was born on January 13, 1977, in Canterbury, England. His mother, Sonia, ran a foreign language school; his father, Harry, was a human rights activist, lawyer, and author. Before moving to Canterbury the elder Blooms lived in South Africa, where Harry Bloom (1913-1981) was a fierce fighter in the struggle against apartheid, a policy of racial segregation. When Orlando was only four years old, his father died after suffering a stroke. He and his older sister, Samantha, were raised by their mother, who had a profound effect on her children.
Sonia Bloom was a businesswoman, but she was also a true lover of the arts. She even named her son after her favorite English composer, Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625). While growing up, Sonia frequently took Orlando and Samantha to the theater and encouraged both of them to attend drama classes and Bible reading classes. By the age of eight Bloom was appearing in school plays, and he and his sister were competing in local festivals.
His introduction to the theater made Bloom decide at an early age that he wanted to be an actor. Acting was also a positive outlet for Bloom since it helped him work through some early childhood problems. He was "quite a chubby kid." Part of the chubbiness came about during his recovery from a skiing injury that happened when he was nine - while Bloom was recovering, he moped about the house and ate candy bars. A more serious issue arose when he was diagnosed with severe dyslexia, which means that he has trouble reading and processing language.
At age thirteen Bloom received another blow when he learned from his mother that Harry Bloom was not his real father. His biological father (and Samantha's as well) was a man named Colin Stone, a longtime family friend who was also Bloom's legal guardian. Colin is actually the biological father of both Orlando and his sister; the two were conceived after an agreement by his parents, since Harry, who suffered a stroke in 1975, was unable to have children. In interviews, Bloom has sometimes seemed uncomfortable talking about the issue, but the revelation does not seem to have caused a great deal of disruption. As he explained later: "I was lucky, I had two dads... As long as I can remember, Colin has been a good friend, but I always thought Harry was my real father."