Jurassic World actor James DuMont talks Nichiren Buddhism and “a deeper shade of blue.”
Actor and SGI Buddhist James DuMont now has over 100 film & TV credits to his name. They include Ugly Betty, Dallas Buyers Club, House, The West Wing, Oceans 13, War of the Worlds, Seabiscuit and Catch Me If You Can. He has played opposite the likes of Colin Farrell, Al Pacino, Jared Leto, Tom Hanks, Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates. His next movie – Jurassic World – opens today, Friday 12 June.
What I love about James’s résumé is that he has slowly, surely and steadily built a successful Hollywood career through his repeated efforts. In fact to land those 100 parts, he has had to do more than 3,000 auditions! And this reminds him of a famous Buddhist quote: “From the indigo, an even deeper blue.” This means that, if one dyes something repeatedly in indigo, it becomes even bluer than the indigo leaf itself. In this interview, James shared with me how his strong Buddhist practice sustains him through the ups and downs of life.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome through the practice?
My father and his father made huge, detrimental mistakes that destroyed their families and the damage took years and generations to heal and in some cases those issues have been the greatest obstacles I have faced as father and husband. Issues of infidelity, financial mistakes and more importantly issues of being present and available to set an example. This has also been my biggest benefit. I am present for my son and daughter, as best I can. I am working to be a better man, father, husband and son than the men in my family before me. In essence I am redefining the truest meaning of fatherhood in my family and all the responsibility that comes with that. This is not an easy task or mission, but it is mine.
What’s your favourite Buddhist quote and why?
SGI President Daisaku Ikeda says: “A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation, and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.” And another favourite quote (author unknown): “Two things define you, your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything”. I have never forgotten where I have come from and this practice allows me to have gratitude and to treat others as I would want to be treated.
Your new movie is Jurassic World, are there any Nichiren Buddhist themes in it?
The most obvious one is “the person & the environment are one!” If our hearts and minds are pure, then so is the environment. There is also the theme of ‘those who do not stop evil are supporting and encouraging it.’ Also part of the inherent nature of dinosaurs was to kill, but unlike the dinosaurs, we have the Gohonzon, which gives us a tool to access our Buddhahood and transform ourselves and our inherent nature.
Why do you think Nichiren Buddhism attracts so many actors and artists?
This practice gives you the strength, power and hope to fundamentally transform your own human journey while on this earth. As an actor/artist I can have a deep and profound effect on the planet, if I just dig deep into my own humanity and then bring that to light by unearthing human behaviour in all its beauty, pain, joy and sorrow. That is my mission while I am here. I audition more than 300 times a year, and in a good year I will only succeed with ten of those 300 attempts to share myself and skills. I can’t imagine having to deal with that without this practice. It gives me a sword to wield through all these setbacks and come away from them feeling happiness, joy and hope. I hope my life and human revolution will encourage people to stand up and fight even harder!
Tell us more about how you handle rejection as an actor?
I cannot stress enough the resilience this practice gives you and how necessary this is for my life and career. Also sometimes you may ‘step in some dog shit’ in life and it takes a while to get rid of the smell from your shoes or even from your mind. You smell it, others do or even if they don’t, you think they do. You have to shed that mindset and make greater causes in order to counter the temporary nature of ‘having shit on your shoes’. I share that analogy a great deal to encourage actors going through serious dry spells of work.
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
Trust yourself more, be better to yourself and do this chanting thing that’s been put right in front of you!
You can Like James’ Facebook page here
You can view James’ showreel here:
And if you enjoyed this interview you may also like a similar post about another SGI Buddhist actor, Cathryn de Prume, to whom I am very grateful as she connected me to James.
More from James in my book, The Buddha in Me, the Buddha in You – a handbook for happiness, available for pre-order now on Amazon UK (to be published Feb 2016)
17 Replies to “Jurassic World actor James DuMont talks Nichiren Buddhism and “a deeper shade of blue.””
David & James:
Thank you so much for this article. It really came right on time for me, as I am struggling with a certification exam. When James explained his purpose for auditions and the success rate, it was like he was talking directly to me, even if it were “apples and oranges.” And the “indigo” piece I had always liked, but it really resonated with me this time.
Funny thing – I did think that “Jurassic World” had a lot to do with Buddhist thought. Using the insights I gained here, I will definitely make sure I go to see the film.
Love this article …arrived at right time for me-thank you
Thanks that was really encouraging and especially about not giving up and standing tall in the face of rejections.
So true. …trust each and every word and relate it so well…this article has come at a right time for me
Definitely a life transforming practice. Evolution is necessary in this lifetime and beyond. I am struggling with my karma which affected my beautiful relationahip . I have reaffirmed my faith and this practice gives you honest clarity into what you want and what you are truly capable of. As a giver. Keep praying for love and happiness.
Yes Sudipto ‘clarity into what you want and what you are capable of’ is a very good summary, thank you 🙂 Best wishes, David
Thanks for such a wonderful article!
You are welcome Francie, glad you liked it!
thank you for this article. Especially the part about the dog shit all over your shoes. I am currently in the process of getting beyond the dog shit. President Ikeda says when you make a mistake examine it, apologize and keep on moving. Thank you again for this article.
Thank you Carla and I like that guidance from Sensei, very simple but very profound. Yes, keep on moving everybody! D 🙂
The other ‘dog shit’ guidance that I love is one that I heard from Kazuo Fujii of SGI UK who once said to me: “When a big problem happens, at first it is like a smelly steamy dog poo which is hard to dispose of. So instead of trying to deal with it straight away, sometimes it is wiser to walk away and leave it for a couple of days in the sun and then it will be dry and is easier to pick up and get rid of!”
Thank you James – All the best for your movie and human revolution.
I am sure you will be the best Husband, Father and Son. Take care.
Nam myoho renge kyo
Nam myoho renge kyo
Nam myoho renge kyo
Nam myoho renge kyo
Ikeda sensei has shown proof of the greatness of nichiren daishonin Buddhism and the wonderful powers of chanting to the gohonzon.
Thanks. Your post showed up on a twitter #nmrk search. Loved this, and it is just what I needed to read right now. Will spare the details, but yes. Havent seen the movie yet, but will see it in a whole new light after this interview.
hey david just wanted to say that after chanting my health has got worse i always had stomach problems since childhood that have become worse i am not able to have food that i like the most and its just getting worse however chanting is making me very energetic and has given clarity to mind and earlier i used to misunderstood lot of things of what people are saying but now i am able to think that may be i have misunderstood them but the worst part is that my health is really going insane please help
Devika, congratulations on the challenges you are facing for the sake of Kosen Rufu!. Please be assured that these are normal obstacles and that you will win! I cannot really help you from over here, you must develop self-reliant faith… this is what Nichiren teaches. Also please get guidance from a local leader who can support you properly and help you transform karma into mission. Best wishes, David