Johnny Depp has his own 45-acre island in the Bahamas, called Little Hall's Pond Cay. Vanity Fair's Douglas Brinkley got to visit the plot of land Johnny calls his "decompression." "It's my way of trying to return to normalcy… Escapism is survival to me."
The island has six different beaches — named after Depp's partner, Vanessa Paradis, and their children, Lily Rose and Jack, as well as his mentors Hunter S. Thompson and Marlon Brando. There's a "patch of water" called "Heath's Place," after the late actor Heath Ledger. The several small residences on the island are solar-powered, and transportation consists of a fleet of green golf carts. Johnny says the beach named after Thompson is Depp "the most savage and exposed of all the beaches. Gonzo Beach is pure Hunter."
Johnny tells Brinkley:
"I don't think I'd ever seen any place so pure and beautiful. You can feel your pulse rate drop about 20 beats. It's instant freedom. And that rare beast-simplicity-can be had. And a little morsel of anonymity… Whenever I was getting frustrated about being 'novelty boy' and making movies, I told myself, Calm down. I can come down here and disappear. I spent the Christmas season here with Vanessa and the kids. You can feed hot dogs to the nurse sharks in the Exumas - but it's best to not swim when doing it."
When not swimming or feeding sharks, Johnny paints. "When I can focus on something like guitar or painting, I do," he says. "I started painting people I admire, like Kerouac, Bob Dylan, Nelson Algren, Marlon Brando, Patti Smith, my girl, my kids. I painted Hunter a couple of times. Keith Richards. What I love to do is paint people's faces, y'know, their eyes. Because you want to find that emotion, see what's going on behind their eyes."
One thing is for sure: Johnny is convince that island living is best.
Nobody is going to ever ruin the Land and Sea Park. It's like a rare gem, a diamond. I look forward to my kids growing up on the island, spending months out of the year here … learning about sea life and how to protect sea life … and their kids growing up here, and so on…. Theoretically, this place can add years to your life." Then he quotes the old adage: "Money doesn't buy you happiness. But it buys you a big enough yacht to sail right up to it."
Take a Trip to Johnny Depp's Private Island [Vanity Fair]
[Image by Francois-Marie Banier exclusively for Vanity Fair.]