Johnny Depp is planning to auction off his worldly possessions and head to the jungle of Belize to build secret drug laboratories and sleep with teenage girls. No, this is not real life. It’s a forthcoming movie called King of the Jungle based on the bizarre story of millionaire tech mogul and former would-be Libertarian Party presidential candidate John McAfee who, after making a fortune in the computer security industry, abandoned his life of luxury in search of adventure in the Belizean jungle. And boy, did he find adventure.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Johnny Depp will play John McAfee in the dark comedy, which will be directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the writers of Bad Santa, Focus, and I Love You Phillip Morris. The film will be based on a now-legendary Wired profile of John McAfee written by Joshua Davis titled “John McAfee Fled To Belize, But He Couldn’t Escape Himself,” which chronicles McAfee’s tumultuous misadventures in the Caribbean country.
The Wired story by Joshua Davis details the result of McAfee’s desire to leave his normal life as a wealthy tech mogul in the United States following the economic collapse of 2008 when he began to feel like he was deluding himself with the life he was living. He was also feeling the pressure from a number of lawsuits against him.
“By 2009 he’d auctioned off almost everything he owned, including more than 1,000 acres of land in Hawaii and the private airport he’d built in New Mexico,” Davis wrote. “He was trying in part to deter people from suing him on the assumption that he had deep pockets. He was already facing a suit from a man who had tripped on his property in New Mexico. Another suit alleged that he was responsible for the death of someone who crashed during a lesson at a flight school McAfee had founded. He figured that if he were out of the country, he’d be less of a target.”
John McAfee eventually purchased a villa on Ambergris Caye in Belize and became enthralled by Mayan ruins when taken down the river into the jungle by a guide. McAfee soon purchased swamp land near the ruins and spent over a million dollars building an array of bungalows, outfitted like “Kublai Khan’s sumptuous house of pleasure,” according to the Wired story. The events that followed had McAfee creating his own laboratories to research disease-fighting plants, shacking up with a 16-year-old sex worker who tried to murder him, and creating his own police force, which he armed and commanded to spy on the local illegal drug trade.
John McAfee amassed a small armory of weapons on his property and was highly secretive regarding the nature of the research being conducted in his laboratories. This naturally drew the interest of Belizean authorities, who eventually raided his property looking for methamphetamines they believed he had been producing. McAfee wound up in jail for possession of illegal firearms and remained under the suspicion of authorities after his release. According to Fortune, John McAfee has also been the subject of allegations he murdered his neighbor in Belize, a crime that remains unsolved. The allegations prompted McAfee to flee Belize for Guatemala.
The guy has led an interesting life, to say the absolute least. It will be interesting to see Johnny Depp play him on screen.
John Mcafee eventually returned to the United States. In 2016, he ran an unsuccessful bid to be the presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party. The Johnny Depp film will reportedly not extend beyond McAfee’s time in Belize.
Johnny Depp is no stranger to playing eccentric characters based on actual people. He has previously played cocaine smuggler George Jung in Blow and legendary gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The role of John Mcafee seems perfect for Johnny Depp, a man who is no stranger to eccentric behavior himself.
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