Actor Johnny Depp is in the middle of a huge celebrity scandal related to his portrayal of a Native American. He’s playing the character Tonto in the new Lone Ranger movie. On Apr. 23, 2013, celeb gossip source Perez Hilton talked at length about the social issues controversy. He noted that the Hollywood icon is being criticized for playing an Indian when he is not one — but brought in an expert (a true Native American) who defended Depp’s character portrayal of the red man as being something that’s being accepted by most indigenous culture tribal members. It’s the uptight white people who he says are having a cultural problem.
But don’t think that just because he’s catching flack for playing a controversial role that he’s insensitive. It is safe to assume, however, that he’s a bit isolationist in his personal life and tends to march to the beat of his own drum. For instance, Johnny Depp joined the list of celebrities who have money to burn, combining a desire to create self-sufficient and eco friendly island show places with a desire for self-sustaining privacy.
Depp’s island is located on Little Hall’s Pond Cay in the Bahamas. Granted, that’s not exactly roaming the open plains of North America on horseback, but it is a place that certainly brings one back to connect with more primitive lifestyle concepts.
As and enigmatic star known for always playing edgier roles and challending characters, Depp is known to be a reclusive actor who works hard to establish private homes for himself and his family. Stand-offish French supermodel Vanessa Paradis was his partner for many years. The couple (now split) have two children, Lily-Rose Melody Depp and Jack John Christopher Depp III. They spent a good portion of their relationship living in a very rustic and primitive way — but they were not exactly “Going Native.”
According to JustLuxe, the superstar bought their (his) private island retreat back in 2004 for $3.6 million and set it up to run completely on solely on solar power. He also built simple structures that enhance the natural wonders of an environmentally protected paradise.
Huffington Post reports that Depp got interested in owning an island when acting legend Marlon Brando bought one in 1994. And, of course, he wanted to avoid the press. After all, we are savages. Depp started asking technical questions about protection from hurricanes and land elevation and got really into researching sustainable home designs from there.
When he got his own island, Depp honored his friends and family by naming the island’s six beaches after Marlon Brando and journalism legend Hunter S. Thompson (Gonzo Beach). He also named beaches after his partner Paridis and his children Lily Rose and Jack. He named a favorite snorkeling location after the late Heath Ledger, naming it “Heath’s Place”.
Other than modest, solar-powered structures and green powered golf carts, the island is one of more than a dozen cays that fall within the boundaries of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, a “no-take” zone that lies about 65 miles (104 kilometers) southeast of the Bahamas capital city of Nassau. This keeps the pristine waters and abundant plant life natural, healthy and whole, if unavailable to the public.
Depp, as an active philanthropist interested in humanitarian as well as environmentally friendly causes contributes to many charities, including the Environmental Justice Foundation, an organization that fights problems like pirate fishing and helps governments with the best sustainability practices. He also fights passionately for hospice and end stage palliative care for children. He is a contributor to Ronald McDonald House and many other charitable organizations.
To that end, regardless of the fact he’s being criticized for playing Tonto the Native American, we here at GCN think he deserves ample praise and credit for being more than the sum of his parts. When you add up all his acting roles and couple them with charity benefit work, he’s truly a shining star — one as bright and well-defined as the badge on the chest of the Lone Ranger himself.
Like Tonto was to the Lone Ranger, to humanity and the environment he’s a faithful friend.