Did you have ever dreamed of being so rich and famous that you could essentially pick any spot on the map to put down roots? Would you set up shop in a penthouse in one of the world’s biggest cities or hide away in a more remote local away from the big studios and paparazzi? The stars on this list have done the latter, at least by Hollywood standards.
“Remote” is a relative term when we’re talking about celebrities. Sure, Louisville, Ky. is still a major city, but it’s a proverbial no man’s land for Hollywood A-listers — unless you’re Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence. Red carpet power couples such as Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds have sought out suburban settings well-removed from Tinseltown, and you’re more likely to find late night legend David Letterman in the aisles of Target than the streets of the Big Apple. Who escaped to their own private island after a bad divorce and which big stars hole up on ranches and farms in flyover states? For these celebs, home is where the heart — not the red carpet — resides.
Jennifer Lawrence is a Kentucky girl at heart
She may have a home in Hollywood, but the Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook star is often spotted in her hometown of Louisville, Ky. Whether standing on the Kentucky Derby’s orange carpet or spending time with her parents, Lawrence proves you can stay the “girl next door” while being one of Hollywood’s hottest starlets. Insiders say the Oscar-winner is still a “down-home Kentucky girl” who enjoys time away from the constant camera clicks.
“Louisville is actually really respectful,” the actress told a local TV station in 2013. “I can normally go out to dinner with my family and everybody is really nice and leaves me alone.” Locals might spot the self-described tomboy strolling through Target with her mom or taking in a college basketball game. Her annual Christmas visit to Norton Children’s Hospital is one of the few times you’ll see her photographed in the Bluegrass State. Though she’s lived and worked in countless places during her meteoric rise to fame, J-Law says the Derby City is the “only thing I’ll ever identify with as home.”
Julia Roberts loves life in Taos
Oscar-winning actress Julia Roberts has been America’s sweetheart since she strutted her stuff through Beverly Hills in the 1990 classic Pretty Woman, but this leading lady prefers the wide open spaces of Taos, N.M. to the boutiques of Rodeo Drive. Named “World’s Most Beautiful Woman” by People magazine a record five times, this Georgia native resides on a sprawling Western ranch situated near world-class skiing.
The adjacent Rio Grande River and Sangre de Cristo Mountains have made Taos a popular spot among celebrities, including Roberts and her husband, cinematographer Daniel Moder. Oprah Winfrey got the chance to interview Roberts at her New Mexico ranch in 2003. “Julia’s hideaway is a universe apart,” Winfrey said. “Yellow and purple flowers line the dirt roads. Majestic purple mountains stand beneath a cloudless blue sky. And when I arrive, there’s Julia as I’ve never seen her: completely at ease, wearing flip-flops, drawstring pants, and a tee, introducing me to her two geese, Bingo and Pajamas…”
Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively hunker down in the ‘burbs
Hollywood power couple Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively may have the best of both worlds in their 1.8-acre Pound Ridge, N.Y. property and pad about an hour outside of Manhattan. When they’re not taking a bite out of the Big Apple or teasing each other on social media, Lively is apparently baking an apple pie in her country estate kitchen. Deadpool’s wife even gets pointers from her famous neighbor and friend Martha Stewart. The lifestyle guru helped the actors plan their wedding.
Playing house in the Hudson Valley is reportedly just the kind of life Reynolds and Lively like, according to People. A source told the mag the famous pair “picked a very traditional kind of house … They wanted a house with character, not a trendy, modern house. Their place is very homey. [Lively] is very domestic.” As Reynolds put it in a 2015 interview for The Project: “We don’t lead a wild and crazy life.
Oprah Winfrey goes off the grid
Oprah Winfrey is arguably among the most famous and recognizable faces in show business. She has a magazine, her OWN television network, a major stake in Weight Watchers, and millions of adoring fans around the world, but sometimes even Oprah needs an escape. While she owns numerous properties, the media mogul can truly unplug on the remote Orcas Island in Washington. According to Over Sixty, she owns a “hideaway mansion” that boasts a half-mile of private shoreline and plenty of other amenities fitting for the philanthropist. “Finished internally with rare reclaimed woods, hand-forged iron work and wooden floorboards reclaimed from the old Sears’ building in Chicago, the home has a luxurious cabin feel,” the publication reported.
With a net worth in the billions, Winfrey joins a long list of famous faces who’ve sought privacy in the Pacific Northwest, including singer Josh Groban, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and actress Kat Dennings.
Johnny Depp finds solace on his private island
It’s no secret that Johnny Depp has struggled with being famous since reaching heartthrob status on 21 Jump Street. As his ugly divorce from actress Amber Heard played out in tabloid headlines, Depp tried to avoid the spotlight by retreating to his own private island in the Bahamas. He talked about his remote retreat with Vanity Fair in 2009. “I don’t think I’d ever seen any place so pure and beautiful,” he said. “You can feel your pulse rate drop about 20 beats. It’s instant freedom.
” Depp’s divorce dirt was coupled with reports about financial woes and lavish spending. The Pirates of the Caribbean star was reportedly spending $30,000 monthly on wine, dishing out more than $3 million to fire the ashes of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson out of a cannon, and “dropping $75 million on 14 homes.” He’s since listed a number of properties for sale, including an estate in the South of France, but Depp has kept the sprawling 45-acre Caribbean island off the market, for now.
Robert Redford’s real-life Western
The old school Hollywood star and director, who claimed his fame with the 1969 hit Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, prefers to work and play in the Wild West and calls Utah home. “I love the extraordinary lands encompassed in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, Robert Redford wrote in The Huffington Post. “I have spent decades exploring them, and I am still awed by the beauty of their serpentine canyons and alcoves filled with stone houses built by the ancestors of today’s Pueblo people.
” Redford adores the region so much that he bought 5,000 acres there in 1969 and named it Sundance, according to the Sundance Institute — the independent filmmaking lab he helped launch in 1980. The first Sundance Film Festival followed in 1985 and has grown to become one of the most highly acclaimed annual events in the entertainment industry. Celebrities from around the world convene in the “semi-wilderness” — a place Redford describes as “a mixture of old and now, lush and spare, sophisticated and primitive — like art itself,” reported Architectural Digest.
Meryl Streep keeps it quiet in her Connecticut home
While racking up an unbelievable 21 Oscar nominations to date, actress Meryl Streep has stayed largely out of the spotlight thanks, in part, to a small town in Connecticut. According to The New York Times, Streep and her husband, sculptor Don Gummer, “paid $1.8 million for an estate in Salisbury that includes a 47-acre lake and a small sheep farm” in 1985. The pair remained rooted there even as her career in Tinseltown soared.
In fact, Streep is such a pillar in the community that she was inducted into the Connecticut Hall of Fame in 2016. State Rep. Roberta Willis accepted the award on the actress’ behalf, calling her a “great friend, mother, activist and a Salisbury neighbor” and joking that “moving to Connecticut was the best thing that happened to Meryl, because this is where she lost her New Jersey accent.
” Streep and her husband also own property in more high-profile areas. In 2018, the couple put a loft on the market for a cool $24.6 million in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City and bought another multi-million pad in Pasadena, Calif., but it’s the privacy of Connecticut that seems to appeal to the living legend.
Woody Harrelson enjoys island life
Woody Harrelson burst onto the Hollywood scene as the lovable, if not entirely intelligent, bartender from the 1980’s and ’90s hit television show Cheers. The actor reportedly had a tough upbringing in Texas and Ohio before making it big in showbiz, but he now finds his happiness “off the hamster wheel” with his wife, Laurie Louie, and three daughters on the island of Maui, Hawaii. The Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning star has managed to stay relatively off the grid thanks to a sustainable community there. “It’s a really beautiful place,” he told SF Gate in 2005. “Everybody cares about this Earth and they’re all biodynamic farmers and just really cool people. It’s really a loving community and I’m blessed to be a part of it.
” The White Men Can’t Jump and Hunger Games star reportedly decided to make the move after a conversation with close friend and “fellow marijuana enthusiast Willie Nelson.” And just in case Harrelson gets a hankering for Hollywood instead of Ho’okipa Beach, he can always rub elbows with a number of celebrity neighbors.
Dave Chappelle gave up fame for farm life
Dave Chappelle took Hollywood by storm in the late ’90s and early aughts as the host of Chappelle’s Show on Comedy Central and star of movies such as Half Baked. He appeared to be at the top of his game when, all of a sudden, he literally disappeared. According to Vanity Fair, the comedian abruptly “walked away from the third season of the wildly successful Chappelle’s Show” and “went to South Africa to hide out from press coverage.”
“I’m interested in the kind of person I’ve got to become. I want to be well rounded and the industry is a place of extremes,” Chappelle told Time in 2005. “I want to be well balanced. I’ve got to check my intentions, man.”
Chappelle apparently found that balance living with his family on a farm in quiet Yellow Springs, Ohio. Though he still skirts the spotlight, Chappelle has become involved in his small community, reportedly hosting a show at a barn to benefit an arts foundation in 2016 and attending a town hall meeting to speak about progressive policing in 2017.
Chip and Joanna Gaines transform Waco
Everything Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines touch seems to go up in value and popularity, and that includes the relatively remote city of Waco, Texas. In 2017, USA Today reported that the couple’s Magnolia Market was attracting “an average of more than 30,000 visitors a week” and expected to draw “about 1.6 million people” that year. While your typical celeb could probably expect a high degree of privacy in a place so far removed from Hollywood, the exact opposite has occurred in Waco. Chartered buses bring fans all the way from New York City to the Gaines’ hometown.
How Waco will be characterized in the future remains to be seen. “Are Chip and Joanna a fad that will fade as the fickle American public moves on to other charismatic personalities? Is the much-touted ‘Magnolia effect’ — the force that has filled hotels, roiled the local housing market and fueled a downtown development frenzy — just a bubble?” reported USA Today.
Despite the sudden crowds, the couple and their five kids appear to be making the most of curated country living on a 40-acre spread. Joanna talked to People about her typical morning in 2018. “Today started off with me holding one of our new baby goats and counting chickens,” she said. “I knew it was going to be a good one.”
David Letterman loves Big Sky Country
Despite beaming into millions of homes as one of the faces of late-night television for 33 years, David Letterman can be a little hard to find these days. Though he hosts the Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, Letterman has largely avoided the limelight since retiring from the Late Show in 2015, choosing to keep a low profile on his ranch near Choteau, Mont.
Letterman blames Tom Brokaw for making him fall in love with Big Sky country. The longtime NBC news anchor supposedly kept telling Letterman “you oughta go,” but Letterman told the Whitefish Review that it took him a while to come around to the idea. “I would look at [a map of] Montana and I would think, Good Lord! Why would you want to go … look at that!” He eventually did go and “stumbled on to the Rocky Mountain Front.” In his words: “The first thing that this experience brought to us is, you just can’t stop seeing once you’re out there.” Though Letterman has poked fun at Montana in various Top Ten lists, the spirit of Choteau has bolstered him through some of life’s most difficult moments, including the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
When he’s not out West, the retired talk show host reportedly resides in the small community of North Salem, N.Y., where you’re more likely to find him at CVS than on CBS.