Buddhist Believers in the Spotlight: 10 Unexpected Celebrities Who Follow Buddhism

By Krystal Brown

From Hollywood stars to renowned musicians, these 10 unexpected celebrities have embraced Buddhism, finding solace and inspiration in its teachings.

Orlando Bloom

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Orlando Bloom is a famous actor widely regarded as the Errol Flynn of his time. The Brit is known for his star worthy performances in movies like The Hobbit, The Pirates of The Caribbean and the Lord of the Rings franchise. After an eye-opening trip to South Africa, the then very popular actor allowed himself time to think while also taking a break from the Hollywood scene. Then in 2004 he publicly converted to Buddhism in the Soka Gakkai international Buddhist center in London. Since then his life took a turn for the better and he has become a devout Buddhist and believes he is more spiritually connected while also at peace with himself. Bloom has said that Buddhist philosophy made him understand the art of living and has been an anchor for his life thus far.

Angelina Jolie

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Angelina Jolie is an A-list actress that graced the stage back in 1982 alongside her father Jon Voight. She is now known worldwide, has won multiple awards and was named highest paid actress in the world many times. Some of her more well known titles include ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’, ‘Maleficent’, ‘Kung Fu Panda’ and ‘Changeling’. In 2002 Angelina adopted her oldest son Maddox, who is Buddhist, from an orphanage in Cambodia. After that she adopted the religion as her own and sees it to be an integral part of her life and customs.

Uma Thurman

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Best known for her starring roles in movies like ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Kill Bill’ volumes 1 and 2, and ‘My Super Ex- Girlfriend’, Uma Thurman is a famous Hollywood actress and model. She first gained recognition for her role in Pulp Fiction and since then was labelled Tarantino’s Muse as she would often appear in movies directed by him. She was born the daughter of Robert Thurman who spent three years as a Buddhist monk and is now the professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies at Columbia University. Because of this she had a Buddhist upbringing and met the Dhali Lama when she was a child. Despite this she describes herself as agnostic but still follows traditional Buddhist teachings.

Steve Jobs

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A man better known for his work as co-founder and CEO of Apple industries, Steve jobs was a very accomplished man worth billions before his death in 2011. Adopted by his parents in 1955 Jobs struggled to find himself throughout his teen years and dropped out of Reed College the same year he joined. He then travelled all around India in 1974 and studied Zen Buddhism in his search for enlightenment. These events had a huge impact on his life and many of his findings inspired huge ideas behind his Apple products. He left a billion dollar empire behind him and will always be remembered as a great man.

Sarah Jessica Parker

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An Award winning actress famous for her role in Sex in the city, both the TV series and subsequent movies. The character she plays was labelled one the best female roles on American television at the time and quickly made her an icon amongst Hollywood stars. The actress was born and raised Jewish but later found herself drawn to the teachings of Buddha, converting and practising Buddhism in the later years of her life. However she hasn’t fully relinquished her Jewfish roots and instead adopted Buddhism as a philosophy rather than a religion. She values its simple wisdom, and concepts of letting go while appreciating the present. She now classifies herself as a Jew-Bu and lives her life happily as a mother of 3 alongside husband of 24 years, Matthew Broderick.


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The lead singer for the band ‘Police’, Sting is a British singer, songwriter and brief actor who rose to stardom because of his unique intermingling of different genres like pop, jazz and world music. After he left his band he enjoyed an extremely successful career as a solo artist releasing hit after hit and became the icon known as Sting. Although the exact date he turned to Buddhism is unclassified Sting is an avid follower of the religion and Owns multiple keepsakes such as bracelets and a necklace with teachings in Sanskrit that remind him of the protection and blessings the religion brings.

Steven Seagal

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Steven Seagal is an American Actor, Screenwriter and martial artist who was largely known in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. He is an accomplished martial artist earning a black belt in Aikido and has run multiple dojos both in America and Japan. The famous action star was named the reincarnated lama and sacred vessel by a prominent spiritual leader in Tibet. The star is one of the most recognized Buddhists in Hollywood and continues to promote his beliefs to this day.

Tiger Woods

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Tiger Woods is an amazing professional Golfer who has won multiple championships and is the most recognized golfer in the world today. Largely respected as one of the best, Woods attributes a lot of his success to his religion, Buddhism. Since he was a kid his mother taught and raised him as a Buddhist but in his later years he slowly drifted away from it. His religion has guided him since he found it again and ultimately was part of a major therapeutic process that helped him focus and dedicate time to his sport.

Jet Li

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Jet Li is a renowned actor and martial artist who is regarded as one of the most iconic Chinese superstars to achieve unbelievable success on and off screen. Aside from his numerous movie awards in both China and in Hollywood, Jet Li has won an unbelievable amount of martial art achievements during his career and continues to surprise us with his feats of athleticism and charisma. He is also a well-known Buddhist, believing that fame is not something he can control therefore he doesn’t care about it. There was even a time where he was considering halting his acting career to focus on his religion as he believes that every religion gives something good to those who follow it and strongly believes that Buddhism helps him and his family tackle the difficulties of everyday life.

Richard Gere

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Richard Gere is an American Actor who began his career in the 1970’s and rose to fame after playing the star in the 1980 film ‘American Gigolo’. From then he enjoyed fame and fortune for a long while and became a symbol amongst younger men. He found Buddhism in his early 20’s and since then remains highly involved in religious communities and actively supports the faith.

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