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River Phoenix

At the 61st Academy Awards; Governor's House, March 29, 1989
Background information
Birth name River Jude Bottom
Born August 23, 1970(1970-08-23)
Metolius, Oregon, United States
Died October 31, 1993 (aged 23)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Occupations Actor, musician, activist
Years active 1980-1993
Associated acts Aleka's Attic

River Jude Phoenix (August 23, 1970 – October 31, 1993) was an Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated American film actor. He was listed on John Willis' Screen World, Vol. 38 as one of twelve "promising new actors of 1986", and was hailed as highly talented by such critics as Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. Also well known for his animal rights activism, he was a spokesperson for PETA and a strict vegan.

On Halloween morning, 1993, Phoenix died of a drug overdose on the sidewalk outside the West Hollywood nightclub the Viper Room.[1] He was the oldest sibling of actors Rain Phoenix, Joaquin Phoenix, Liberty Phoenix and Summer Phoenix.


Early life

Phoenix was born as River Jude Bottom on August 23, 1970, in a log cabin in Metolius, Oregon, the first child of Arlyn Sharon Dunetz and John Lee Bottom.[2] Phoenix's parents named him after the river of life from the Hermann Hesse novel Siddhartha, and he received his middle name from The Beatles' song "Hey Jude".[3]

When I was in first grade, everyone made fun of my name, of course. I think it's kind of a big name to hold up when you're that age. It seemed goofy. I used to tell people I wanted to change the world and they used to think, 'This kid's really weird'.

In an interview with People, Phoenix described his parents as "hippieish".[2] His mother was born in The Bronx, New York, to Jewish parents who emigrated from Hungary and Russia.[4][5] His father was a lapsed Catholic from Fontana, California,[4] and had a daughter from a previous relationship, Jodene, who later changed her name to Trust. In 1968, Phoenix's mother left her family in New York City and travelled across the United States, meeting John Lee Bottom while hitchhiking in northern California. They married on September 13, 1969, less than one year after meeting. In 1973, the family joined a religious cult called the Children of God as missionaries. While living in Crockett, Texas, their second child Rain Joan of Arc Bottom was born on November 12, 1972. Their third child was born on October 28, 1974, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as Joaquin Rafael Bottom.[6]

We were constantly moving to different countries and adjusting to new things. It was such a free feeling. I'm glad I didn't have a traditional upbringing.

On July 5, 1976, Libertad Mariposa Bottom was born, while the family had settled in Caracas, Venezuela, where the Children of God had stationed them to work as missionaries and fruit gatherers. Although John Bottom was later designated the cult's "Archbishop of Venezuela and the Caribbean", their family received no financial support from the group and lived in poverty. Phoenix often played guitar while he and Rain sang on street corners for money and food to support their ever-growing family.

Arlyn and John eventually grew disillusioned with the Children of God; Arlyn would later tell a journalist that she and her husband were opposed to the cult's practice of Flirty Fishing, stating: "The group was being distorted by the leader, David Berg, who was getting powerful and wealthy. He sought to attract rich disciples through sex. No way."[7]

Fearing the cult was moving in a negative direction, the Bottom family left the group and stayed for a period with a church in Venezuela. It was during the last years in South America that the entire Phoenix family converted to vegetarianism; encouraged by River and Joaquin who has witnessed local fishermen's methods of killing their catch.[8]

When I was old enough to realize all meat was killed, I saw it as an irrational way of using our power, to take a weaker thing and mutilate it. It was like the way bullies would take control of younger kids in the schoolyard.

The family eventually made the trip back to the United States by stowing away on a cargo ship. Upon thier return, they moved in with Phoenix's maternal grandparents in Florida. On December 10, 1978, Summer Joy Bottom was born in Winter Park, Florida, being the youngest child of her family. On April 2, 1979, the family officially changed their name to Phoenix, after the mythical bird that rises from its own ashes, symbolizing a new beginning.[9] They also adopted veganism as the family diet and lifestyle.

During their time in Florida, the Phoenix children had become seasoned performers, with River and Rain's singing act being a crowd pleaser at talent shows and town fairs. Arlyn sent clippings about the children from local newspapers to an old school friend in Hollywood, which made their way to Paramount Studios - who sent the family a letter stating that they would see the kids were the family ever in the area, but encouraged them not to 'make a special trip'.[citation needed] Phoenix stated:

So, naturally, we packed up the old station wagon and headed for Hollywood.

Acting career

In Los Angeles, Arlyn Phoenix was working for a casting agent at NBC. She managed to secure her talented brood a meeting with top kids agent Iris Burton; who was so charmed by the family that she agreed to take on all five Phoenix children.

In 1980, Phoenix began to fully pursue his work as an actor, making his first appearance on a TV show called Fantasy singing with his sister Rain.[10] In 1982, River was cast in the NBC short-lived TV series, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, in which he starred as the youngest brother, Guthrie McFadden. River, who arrived at the auditions with his guitar, promptly burst into a convincing Elvis Presley impersonation, charming the show producer.[11]

I just leaped five feet into the air. I got all red and freaked out. It was my first television show. Real exciting - a glorious moment. It was something I just waited for, and it's such a rare thing, being at the right place at the right time and just fitting the part.

It would be almost a year after Seven Brides for Seven Brothers ended in 1983 that River would find a new role in the 1984 made-for-TV movie Celebrity, where he played the part of young Jeffie Crawford. Although he was only on screen for about ten minutes, his character was a central role.[12] Less than a month after Celebrity came the after school show Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia. River starred as a young boy who discovers he has dyslexia. Joaquin starred in a small role alongside his brother.

In September, the pilot episode of the short-lived TV series It's Your Move aired. River was cast as Brian and only has one line of dialogue. He also starred as Robert Kennedy's son, Robert Kennedy, Jr. in the TV movie Robert Kennedy and His Times.

When River's role in Dyslexia was critically acclaimed, he was almost immediately cast as a major role in his next made-for-TV movie, Surviving: A Family in Crisis. River starred as Philip Brogan alongside Molly Ringwald and the late Heather O'Rourke. This would be his last TV performance before he began starring in films. It would be halfway during the filming of Surviving that Iris Burton would contact him about a possible role in the film Explorers.[13]

In October 1984, River was informed that he had been cast as the geeky boy-scientist Wolfgang Müller in Joe Dante's large-budget science-fiction film Explorers and production began soon after. This was River's first major motion picture role.

He had significant juvenile roles in Rob Reiner's coming of age picture Stand By Me (1986) which first brought Phoenix to public prominence; Peter Weir's The Mosquito Coast (1986), where Phoenix played the son of Harrison Ford's character; A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon (1988); and Little Nikita (1988) alongside Sidney Poitier.

During this time, the Phoenix family would continue to move on a regular basis and would notch up over forty moves by the time Phoenix was 18. After completing his sixth feature film, Sidney Lumet's Running on Empty (1988) the family made their last move to Micanopy, near Gainesville, Florida in 1987.

At the suggestion of Harrison Ford, Phoenix portrayed the teenage Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and was offered the role of the young Indiana Jones in the TV series, which he turned down.

In early 1989, Phoenix was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (as well as for a Golden Globe) and received the Best Supporting Actor honor from the National Board of Review for his role in Running on Empty.

Phoenix had met actor Keanu Reeves while Reeves was filming Parenthood with Phoenix's brother, Joaquin. The two would star together for the first time (along with Kevin Kline, Tracey Ullman and Joan Plowright) in 1990's I Love You to Death and again in Gus Van Sant's avant-garde film My Own Private Idaho. For his role in My Own Private Idaho, Phoenix won Best Actor honors at the Venice Film Festival, the National Society of Film Critics and the Independent Spirit Awards. The film and its success solidified Phoenix's image as an actor with edgy, leading man potential. At a press screening for My Own Private Idaho at the New York Film Festival Phoenix correctly predicted a large number of gay-themed films were "on the horizon."[14] (His friendship with Reeves and Van Sant continued until his death). Just prior to My Own Private Idaho, he filmed an acclaimed independent picture called Dogfight co-starring Lili Taylor and directed by Nancy Savoca, in which Phoenix portrayed a young U.S. Marine on the night prior to his being shipped off to Vietnam in November 1963.

It's not about career. It's about believing in something, it's about prosperity. And it's about caring and empathizing and wanting to create the best, the most true to life, the most real.

After losing out on the Brad Pitt role in Robert Redford's film A River Runs Through It, Phoenix teamed up with Redford and again with Sidney Poitier for the conspiracy/espionage thriller Sneakers (1992). A month later he would begin production on Sam Shepard's art-house, ghost western Silent Tongue (which would be released in 1994). He then appeared in Peter Bogdanovich's country music-themed film, The Thing Called Love (1993); the last completed picture before his death. Phoenix and co-star in the film, Samantha Mathis, became an item in real life.

Phoenix was still working on George Sluizer's post-apocalyptic Dark Blood which was three weeks from completion at the time of his death. 90% completed, the film was never released, as Phoenix's death made it impossible for the filmmakers to film several key scenes. Director George Sluizer now owns the material and has been reported to be considering releasing some footage material about Phoenix embedded in a documentary on River's life.

Phoenix was being considered for the role of Jim Carroll, the drug addicted teen in the 1995 drama The Basketball Diaries and Arthur Rimbaud in Total Eclipse. After his death, Leonardo DiCaprio was cast in both roles. Author Anne Rice had originally wanted Phoenix cast in the role of Lestat in the film version of Interview with the Vampire and Phoenix became attached to the project; however, when the producer wanted a more consistently bankable actor for the part, Tom Cruise was hired (against Rice's initial outrage). Phoenix remained with the picture and was to appear as the interviewer, Daniel Molloy, a role that ultimately ended up going to Christian Slater following Phoenix's death. The film was dedicated to him and Slater donated his salary from the film to Phoenix's favorite charities.

Generally regarded by critics at the time as the most promising young actor on the cusp of the '80s and '90s, River and younger brother Joaquin would later go on to become the first brothers in Hollywood history to be nominated for an Oscar in the acting categories.


I've been wanting to go into music ever since I can remember. I mean even before I became an actor. I just thought it would be a tough field to break into, so I became an actor instead.

Although Phoenix's movie career was generating most of the income for his family, it has been stated by close friends and relatives that his true passion was music. Phoenix was a singer, song writer and an accomplished guitarist. He had begun teaching himself guitar at the age of five and had stated in an interview for E! in 1988 that his family's move to Los Angeles when he was nine was made so that he and his sister "..could become recording artists. I fell into commercials for financial reasons and acting became an attractive concept..." Prior to securing an acting agent, Phoenix and his siblings had attempted to forge a career in music by playing cover songs on the streets of the Westwood district of LA; often being moved along by police because of the gathering crowds who obstructed the pavement.

Whilst working on A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon in 1986 Phoenix had written and recorded a song, "Heart to Get," specifically for the end credits of the movie. 20th Century Fox cut it from the completed film, but director William Richert put it back into place for his director's cut some years later. It was during filming that Phoenix met Chris Blackwell of Island Records, this meeting would later secure Phoenix a 2 year development deal with the label. Phoenix disliked the idea of being a solo artist and relished collaboration and so focused on putting together a band. Aleka's Attic were formed in 1987 and the line up included his sister Rain. Phoenix was committed to gaining credibility by his own merit and so he maintained that the band would not use his name when securing performances that were not benefits for charitable organizations. Phoenix's first release was 'Across the Way,' co-written with bandmate Josh McKay, which was released in 1989 on a benefit album for PETA entitled "Tame Yourself." In 1991 River wrote and recorded a spoken word piece called "Curi Curi" for Milton Nascimento's album TXAI. Also in 1991 the Aleka's Attic track "Too Many Colors" was lent to the soundtrack of Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho a film which included Phoenix in a starring role.

Due to Phoenix having to take numerous breaks to fulfill movie obligations the two year deal was frozen repeatedly and, subsequently, it was over four years before the final demos were completed. With the refusal to compromise his music to gear it towards a more 'mainstream' audience the deal eventually fell through. Around this time, Phoenix's friend John Frusciante had left his band Red Hot Chili Peppers and, with Phoenix spending more and more time in LA, the two began collaborating frequently; recording material on 4 and 8-track recorders in Frusciante's home.

In 1992, Phoenix worked with producer and friend T-Bone Burnett on some songs for his final completed film The Thing Called Love. Phoenix performed all his character's songs himself and wrote the song "Lone Star State of Mine" especially for the movie. In 1996, a second Aleka's Attic track was released, "Note to a Friend" was included on a PETA compilation album In Defense of Animals Volume II. The track included friend Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers on bass. Two tracks collaborated on with John Frusciante were intended for release on his first solo album Niandra Lades and usually just a t-shirt(1994) but were pulled by request of the Phoenix family. They were released instead on Frusciante's second solo record, Smile from the streets you hold (1997) under different titles, "Height Down" (originally titled 'Soul Removal') and "Well, I've Been" (originally titled 'bought her soul').

Phoenix, along with friend Dan Aykroyd and other musically inclined celebrities, was an investor in the original House of Blues in Cambridge, Massachusetts which opened its doors to the public after serving a group of homeless people on Thanksgiving Day 1992.[15] Phoenix was also close friends with Michael Stipe of the band R.E.M.. At the time of his death Phoenix had been working on an album with Aleka's Attic (then consisting of a different line-up). The album, although close to completion, was shelved after Phoenix's death due to two of the musicians declining to sign artistic releases.


If I have some celebrity, I hope I can use it to make a difference. The true social reward is that I can speak my mind and share my thoughts about the environment and civilization itself. There's so much shit happening with people who are exploiting their positions and creating a lot of negativity.

Phoenix was a dedicated animal rights, environmental and political activist. He was a prominent spokesperson for PETA and won their Humanitarian award in 1990 for his fund-raising efforts.[16] Also in 1990, for Earth Day, Phoenix wrote an environmental awareness essay targeted at his young fanbase, which was printed in Seventeen magazine. He financially aided a slew of environmental and humanitarian organizations and bought 800 acres (3.2 km2) of endangered rainforest in Costa Rica.

As well as comparing and giving speeches at rallies for various groups, he and his band often played environmental benefits for well known charities and also that of local ones around Gainesville, Florida. Phoenix was renowned for using his power within the media to voice his beliefs and opinions on issues he felt important, with his fanclub newsletters excluding the typical teen idol fodder to include information about issues such as the arms race, nuclear testing and climate change.


Drugs aren't just done by bad guys and sleaze bags. It's a universal disease.

Prone to spells of worsening depression and compulsivity, River hinted in interviews at having been abused by the members of the Children of God, an oft-investigated cult to which he had belonged as a small child. Although the details of the alleged mistreatment remain unclear, it has been strongly suggested that the experience played a key role in his descent into substance abuse towards the end of his life.[citation needed]

Prior to his death, River Phoenix's image — one he bemoaned in interviews — had been squeaky-clean, due in part to the public discussion of his various social, political, humanitarian and dietary interests not always popular in the '80s; as a result, his death elicited a vast amount of coverage from the media at the time. To this day, most family and friends remain silent on the subject.[citation needed]


I don't want to die in a car accident. When I die it'll be a glorious day. It'll probably be a waterfall.

On October 31, 1993, Phoenix collapsed from a drug overdose of heroin and cocaine (known as a speedball) outside the Viper Room, a Hollywood night club partially owned, at the time, by actor Johnny Depp. Phoenix had returned to Los Angeles early that week from Utah to complete the three weeks of interior shots left on his last (and, uncompleted) project Dark Blood. His younger sister Rain and brother Joaquin had flown out from Florida to join him at his hotel. River's girlfriend Samantha Mathis had also come to meet him, and all would be present at the scene of River's death.

On the evening of October 30, River was to perform onstage with his close friend Michael "Flea" Balzary from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. At some point in the evening Phoenix went to the bathroom to take drugs with various friends and dealers.[17] It is reported that an acquaintance offered him some Persian Brown (a powerful form of methamphetamine mixed with opiates, which is then snorted) and soon after consuming the drug he became ill.[17]

Upon leaving The Viper Room, River Phoenix collapsed onto the sidewalk and began convulsing for eight minutes. Joaquin dialed 911; during the call Joaquin was unable to determine whether River was breathing. River had, in fact, already stopped breathing.[citation needed] Rain proceeded to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. During the episode, Johnny Depp and his band P (featuring Flea and Phoenix's friend Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers) were onstage. According to Haynes the band was in the middle of their song, "Michael Stipe" (which includes the line "but we didnt have a part, not a piece of our heart, not Michael, River Phoenix or Flea or me."), while Phoenix was outside the venue having seizures on the sidewalk.[18] When the news filtered through the club, Flea left the stage and rushed outside. Paramedics had arrived on the scene and found Phoenix in asystole (flatline), when they administered drugs in an attempt to restart his heart. He was rushed to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, accompanied by Flea, via an ambulance. Further attempts to resuscitate Phoenix (including the insertion of a pacemaker) were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at 1:51 a.m. PST on the morning of October 31, 1993.[19] The following day the club became a make-shift shrine with fans and mourners leaving flowers, pictures and candles on the sidewalk and graffiti messages on the walls of the venue. A sign was placed in the window that read, "With much respect and love to River and his family, The Viper Room is temporarily closed. Our heartfelt condolences to all his family, friends and loved ones. He will be missed". The club remained closed for a week. Johnny Depp continued to close the club every year on October 31 until selling his share in 2004.

A local paparazzo chose not to photograph Phoenix dying on the street, however, the day before his cremation in Florida, a reporter broke into the funeral home and took a picture of Phoenix resting in his casket; this picture was later to be sold to the tabloids for $1,000,000. It has now been published by the National Enquirer three times since the initial publishing in 1993.

References in popular culture

River Phoenix first gained references in music with Brazilian singer Milton Nascimento writing the song "River Phoenix: Letter to a Young Actor" about him after having seen Phoenix in The Mosquito Coast (1986). The song appears on the 1989 release Miltons. Phoenix's friends, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, wrote a few lines for him in the song "Give It Away" from the 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik: "There's a River born to be a giver, keep you warm won't let you shiver, his heart is never gonna wither..."

Phoenix has been the subject of numerous tributes in song and other media. The band R.E.M. dedicated their album Monster to Phoenix, and their song "E-Bow the Letter" from 1996's New Adventures in Hi-Fi is said to have been written from a letter Michael Stipe wrote to Phoenix but never sent because of the actor's death. Musician Sam Phillips has the dedication "For River" on her album Martinis & Bikinis. Again, Red Hot Chili Peppers, paid tribute with the song "Transcending" on 1995's One Hot Minute being written about him. Other songs inspired by Phoenix include Dana Lyons' "Song For River Phoenix (If I Had Known)," Grant Lee Buffalo's "Halloween," Natalie Merchant's "River" for her 1995 album Tigerlily, Ellis Paul's song "River," found on his 1994 release Stories,[20] Rufus Wainwright's "Matinee Idol", Nada Surf's "River Phoenix" and Stereophonics's "Chris Chambers." In her 1996 album Woman & A Man, Belinda Carlisle referenced River in the song "California". The song opens and closes with the line "I remember I was in a tanning salon, when I heard that River Phoenix was gone." In Jay-Z's album, Kingdom Come, the lyrics of "Hollywood" list him as one of the many fatalities of the pressures of Hollywood. New York band Japanther featured a song on their album Skuffed up my Huffy (2008) entitled "River Phoenix," which is about certain events in his life and delivers the chorus "River Phoenix didn't mean it". In the song "The Viper Room," Wesley Willis takes an abrupt turn from an otherwise glowing account of the club by noting Phoenix's death, stating that he "...collapsed and died like a Doberman."

Gus Van Sant, with whom Phoenix worked in the film My Own Private Idaho, dedicated his 1994 movie Even Cowgirls Get The Blues as well as his 1998 novel Pink to him. The film Phoenix was due to start shooting shortly after his death, Interview With The Vampire, features the dedication "In memory of River Phoenix, 1970-1993" at the end of the closing credits. Experimental Santa Cruz filmmaker Cam Archer also produced a documentary called Drowning River Phoenix as part of his USA Fame series.

During performances on November 13[21] and November 15, 1993[22] February 12, 1994,[23] and one of Nirvana's last USA shows in Seattle on January 7, 1994,[24] Kurt Cobain of Nirvana dedicated the song "Jesus Don't Want Me For a Sunbeam" to Phoenix (among other celebrities who died young), just a few months before River's death. Tom Petty dedicated "Ballad of Easy Rider" to Phoenix when he played in his and Phoenix's hometown of Gainesville, Florida in November 1993.

The British band Manic Street Preachers mentions River in their song "Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart" (from the album The Holy Bible, 1994) in the following line:"...I'm thinking right now of Hollywood tragedy; big mac; smack; Phoenix.R; please smile y'all..."

Phoenix was the subject of a controversial song by Australian group TISM. Titled "(He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River" the single originally featured a mock-up of River Phoenix' tombstone as its cover art in 1995. The chorus features the line, "I'm on the drug that killed River Phoenix."

On the song "Love Me, Hate Me" by rapper Ja Rule, he numerates different ways he could die as a celebrity, and one of the lyrics says "I might OD in a club off drugs like River Phoenix"

In the 1997 musical, The Fix, Phoenix is alluded to in the song "Mistress of Deception" in the lines, "Hot young actor died last night at an L.A. club./ecstasy and booze/and too much nyquil./had the sweetest face,/warm and shy and innocent; sexy in that careless kinda way./the newsman said his heart just stopped like that...."

The scene of River Phoenix's death merits several mentions in William Gibson's book Spook Country.

A lesser known reference to River Phoenix was Final Fantasty VIII's main protagonist Squall Leonhart. Tetsuya Nomura, the lead character designer for the game, stated he modelled Squall on River's visage during development, and even gave Squall the same birthdate.[25]

The Family Guy episode Three Kings, which was parodying Rob Reiner's Stand By Me ended in a synopsis of what the actors who originally played the characters in the movie went on to do. When he gets to Quagmire, who was parodying the character who was originally played by Phoenix, the narrator states, "Quag grew up to become a famous Hollywood actor. Unfortunately, about a week ago, he took an overdose of designer drugs at the Viper Room. He died, on the curb outside. And now we are left with a harelipped reminder of what might have been. " A picture of Joaquin Phoenix, River's brother, fills the screen, accompanied by a Benny Hill-style trumpet sound. After the commercial break, Peter's first line is, "Joaquin Phoenix, if you are still watching, you're a good sport, and a trooper. And you passed our test. And you can be our friend." On the controversial episode, "I Dream of Jesus," Jesus says he raised Phoenix from the dead, only to have him overdose again in front of the Viper Room.

In 2004 Phoenix was voted #64 greatest movie star of all time in a poll by channel 4 television in the UK. The poll was made up wholly of votes from prominent figures of the acting and directing communities.

Phoenix's life and death has been the subject of an E! True Hollywood Story, an A&E Biography and an episode of Final 24, which contains a dramatic reconstruction of his final hours and death.


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Explorers Wolfgang Müller Young Artist Award for Exceptional Performance by a Young Actor - Motion Picture
1986 Stand by Me Chris Chambers Jackie Coogan Award shared with Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell
The Mosquito Coast Charlie Fox Young Artist Award for Best Young Male Superstar in Motion Pictures
1988 A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon Jimmy Reardon Alternative title: Aren't You Even Gonna Kiss Me Goodbye?
Little Nikita Jeff Grant Alternative title: The Sleepers
Running on Empty Danny Pope/Michael Manfield National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Young Indiana Jones
1990 I Love You to Death Devo Nod
1991 My Own Private Idaho Mike Waters Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
Volpi Cup for Best Actor
Dogfight Eddie Birdlace
1992 Sneakers Carl Arbegast
1993 Dark Blood Boy Incomplete/Unreleased
The Thing Called Love James Wright
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Pilgrim Uncredited
1994 Silent Tongue Talbot Roe
Year Title Role Notes
1982-1983 Seven Brides for Seven Brothers Guthrie McFadden 21 episodes
Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor in a Drama Series 1984
Nominated - Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor in a New Television Series 1982
1984 Celebrity Jeffie (age 11) Miniseries
ABC Afterschool Special Brian Ellsworth Episode: "Backwards: The Riddle Of Dyslexia"
Nominated - Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor in a Family Film Made for Television shared with Joaquin Phoenix
It's Your Move Brian Episode: "Pilot"
Hotel Kevin Episode: "Tranitions"
1985 Robert Kennedy & His Times Robert Kennedy, Jr. (Part 3) Miniseries
Surviving Philip Brogan Television movie
Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor Starring in a Television Special or Mini-Series
Family Ties Eugene Forbes Episode: "My Tutor"
1986 Circle of Violence: A Family Drama Chris Benfield Television movie


  1. ^ Remembering 1993 Gary Kirkland Gainesville Sun - December 26, 1993
  2. ^ a b River's Untimely Death from People (November 15, 1993)
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ Ten American showbiz celebrities of Russian descent - Pravda.Ru
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Esquire magazine, March, 1994
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b "The Untimely Death of River Phoenix". Reel Reviews article. Retrieved 2007-04-24. 
  18. ^ Aaron, Charles. "They Came from Hollywood", Spin, 30 July 2007.
  19. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (1993-11-02). "Death of River Phoenix Jolts the Movie Industry". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  20. ^ Ellis Paul website. Lyrics and audio to "River" from the album Stories. Retrieved 3 September 2007.
  21. ^ LIVE NIRVANA TOUR HISTORY: 11/13/93 - Bender Arena, American University, Washington, DC, US
  22. ^ LIVE NIRVANA TOUR HISTORY: 11/15/93 - Roseland Ballroom, New York, NY, US
  23. ^ LIVE NIRVANA TOUR HISTORY: 02/12/94 - Zénith Omega, Toulon, FR
  24. ^ LIVE NIRVANA TOUR HISTORY: 01/07/94 - Seattle Center Arena, Seattle, WA, US
  25. ^ Staff (2000-09-21). "The Bouncer Team Talks About Its Mysterious Game". IGN. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 

Further reading

  • Glatt, John. Lost in Hollywood: The Fast Times and Short Life of River Phoenix. ISBN 1-55611-440-0. 
  • Furek, Maxim W.. The Death Proclamation of Generation X: A Self-Fulfilling Prophesy of Goth, Grunge and Heroin. ISBN 978-0-595-46319-0. 
  • Lawrence, Barry C.. In Search of River Phoenix: the Truth Behind the Myth. ISBN 0-9672491-9-8. 
  • Robb, Brian J.. River Phoenix: a short life. ISBN 0-06-095132-X. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

River Jude Phoenix (August 23, 1970October 31, 1993) was an Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated American actor.



  • Vegetarianism is a link to perfection and peace. But it's a small link. There are lots of other issues: apartheid , vivisection, political prisoners, the arms race. There's so much going on in this world today, so much ignorance among people. That's not to say I'm not standing amongst everybody. But the point is, what can we do now? That's the thing about vegetarianism; it's an individual's decision and it's something you have control over. How many things do we really have control over?
    • Vegetarian Times (1988)
  • I don't want to get so lost in thinking about me and talking about me all the time in interviews. It's so nice to unwind and just look at other things and get out of yourself. It's hard to detach myself from myself without neglecting myself. You know what I mean? I don't want to get in to the habit of thinking about my career because when it comes down to it, it's not really that important. I could die tomorrow and the world would go on.
    • Sky Magazine (1988)
  • Sometimes I wish I wasn't as conscious as I am. It would be so much easier.
    • Premier (1988)
  • The press is always looking for a little twist to a story and what i've learned is that it all turns out very superficial. So you need to become what they want, you need to give what they put out.
    • E! Television (1988)
  • It really upsets me and i'm basically upset at myself for being so naive and gullible as i have been in the past as far as being intimidated by the stylists with the wardrobe and the hair-do's and the poses and the this and that and all that stuff that isn't me. What it does is it makes you an image, and they plaster you on all these magazines and sensationalize and they're all very nice and sweet and goody-goody but still, it's just false as far as, you know, the image that's portrayed; it's not me.
    • E! Television (1988)
  • I can't on my own change the regime in South Africa or teach the Palestinians to live with the Israelis, but I can start with me.
    • Sky Magazine (1988)
  • I welcome an end to this all if that's what should be, i don't mind that. In fact, I would rather quit while i was ahead. There's no need in overstaying your welcome.
    • E! Television (1988)
  • We need an extreme movement because what is happening to animals is so extreme. Some misinformed people claim that animal rights activists are terrorists, but these people are simply ignorant of who the real terrorists are - the companies and industries that torture literally billions of animals each year.
    • The Animals Voice Magazine (1989)
  • If I have some celebrity, I hope I can use it to make a difference. The true social reward is that I can speak my mind and share my thoughts about the environment and civilisation itself. There's so much shit happening with people who are exploiting their positions and creating a lot of negativity.
    • The Face (1989)
  • When i was younger, i was dressed up like a model, told to pose in certain ways; to tilt my head, push my lips out, suck in my cheeks. And i'd be tired at the end of the day so i'd just give the damned photographer what he wanted. It was the most mortifying experience. And the photographs were the ugliest, the most wasnt me. then all the outtakes that you never want to see again in your life go through the teen magazines forever.
    • Vogue (1990)
  • Most actors possess an intuitive side. Actually, the further away I am from the character, the less work I have to do. It takes so much more energy to detach yourself from your own life references that might cross wires with your character's. I think it's cheating for me to ever use my life references in conjunction with my characters. It's my reaction transferred to the character, which isn't good. What I have to do is erase those things and then find something else. I can't stand in front of a camera and let anything of myself come through or I'm betraying the character's complete trueness. There are some actors who just use themselves. They can wear their ego on their sleeve and it looks great. I can't do that.
    • US Magazine (1991)
  • When you see the name 'River Phoenix' everywhere; you gotta, like, joke about it.
    • Rolling Stone (1993)
  • It's really designed, I think, to strip you and blend you. It's like feeling like the invisible man. You just stand there, and you start disintegrating, and you can't see yourself, and you just feel like you're being absorbed into this big blob of glitter.
    • On Los Angeles, Rolling Stone (1991)
  • It's not about career. It's about believing in something, it's about prosperity. And it's about caring and empathizing and wanting to create the best, the most true to life, the most real.
    • VPRO, (1991)
  • The business always goes for what you do best. And I've just made myself do best in the way I've wanted to. So, if they get recognition like at the Venice film festival, the Toronto film festival, wherever it is, you know, in France, in Holland, when critics start speaking up and they believe in something, then you have the power to get blow-jobs basically from the corporate leaders. I mean, I've found myself being blown by America's film corporations. It's nice. I cum in their fucking lens.
    • VPRO, (1991)
  • Fame doesn't affect my relationships with people much because I've got my head on straight, but there is some sort of undertone that has a weird effect when you're trying to walk through life – I'm not interested in seeing "the media" manifest itself in my life. I don't even like to call acting a career. I prefer to think of it as a project, or else I'd start worrying about things like money. I like contributing to causes, people and the world around me. Just kind of sharing it all, that's what's important.
    • Hard Rock Times (1991)
  • Fame is what gets people to go watch your film. I'm just glad to be in a film i believe in. And if it take's fame to get people there, then it's my job. But i'd rather be a ghost writer than have my name down.
    • Details Magazine, (1991)
  • Sometimes I'll hear stuff like, 'Hey, man, where's your skateboard, dude,' from people who think I'm Christian Slater.
    • Movieline (1991)
  • One of the things that was introduced to me at an early stage in life was to try to make stuff happen. But nothing ever worked that way for me. What I learned on my own was that to try and play God with your life will wreck your brain and your nervous system, and mess up your natural direction in the course that's already there...But look, I just don't want to read about me being made into a basket case because of my work. It's self-pity that I hate. I mean, it comes with the territory. An actor with any conviction goes the extra mile.
    • Movieline (1991)
  • It was very personal. Political comes from the viewing process. Nothing is ever political if it's genuine. In the reaction, yes, it can be political. But the motives were based completely on a deep need to communicate and share information. The film language has evolved enough that you should get people interacting with the film. It's exciting for us to exhibit it, and it's exciting for people to watch it...I think it's very important for the gay community to have random characters that represent nothing more than people...I think it's part of a wave that will set a precedent of some sort so that you will no longer need a label.
    • On My Own Private Idaho, The Face, (1992)
  • It might take a few of these films before there's, like, a natural stride with the whole issue and then maybe one day it won't even be an issue, which is what I'm hopeing.
    • On My Own Private Idaho, Empire, (1992)
  • I'm a minor, stupid talent compared to my brother (Joaquin).
    • Mademoiselle (1993)
  • We are taught to consume. And that's what we do. But if we realized that there really is no reason to consume-that it's just a mind set, that it's just an addiction, then we wouldn't be out there stepping on people's hands climbing the corporate ladder of success. I have my reasons why I want to be filthy rich. It's so I can buy the last first growth forest and turn it into a permanent national park. I just bought 800 acres on the border of Panama and Costa Rica.
    • Detour, (1993)
  • I woke up from a nap the other night. Everyone is cranky when they wake up. I thought to myself: 'I have no right to be cranky. I'm so lucky.' On my way to go to a restaurant, I get out of the car and I see this person on crutches. His sign says that he has AIDS and that his immune system is low. You know, he's broke, and his family won't talk to him because they can't eat because of the hospital bills. He didn't do this. The system did it - so that when someone has a chronic disease, it sucks him dry. He could have been in that same restaurant two years ago, eating and tipping big. I felt blessed that I could drop a fifty on him.
    • Detour, (1993)
  • Quite often, when actors have such a strong charisma in real life, eventually it has to affect the characters they play. For myself I'm not charismatic in that way. I'm not a "performer". Ideally I would stay mute as River. That's the reason why, for a long time, I've said the opposite of what I really thought. In interviews, I've also played characters that I wasn't. I've lied and often contradicted myself to dumbfound people. It's all over now, because I have nothing left to hide. Eventually, I'm quite an ordinary person.
    • Last interview, Premier, (October 1993)

About River Phoenix

  • There's something inside River that his parents are largely responsible for. He's got tremendous warmth; he's obviously been loved quite a bit. His parents have somehow managed to maintain what was pure and good about the '60s morality and make it work. When kids are talented and become successful, you never know if they're going to make the right judgments. Knowing his family, I give River a good shot.
  • I feel River Phoenix is one of our finest young actors and destined to leave an indelible imprint on American film.
  • You're working against raw talent and that's very invigorating for me -- he sparkles.
  • The talent is original. River doesn't know how to do anything falsely. Give him a false direction and he'll look up helplessly. He has a surprising technique that he has developed on his own- he has never studied acting. He couldn't be ordinary if he tried.
  • River's the best man, he's a god, he's the king. I pray to the church of River Phoenix!
  • He was impulsive and careless - he took more drugs than I ever heard of anyone taking before... I don’t know how anyone could take that amount of drugs without the idea that they were basically going to die. They said that River was stoned throughout the whole movie which just was not true. It is extremely annoying. It discredits his work on 'My Own Private Idaho' to say that he was on drugs. He was too good in it. You can’t be that good and be on drugs.
  • River was the best there was. River was a man with a future. You could see it coming right out of him. You could see his work, you could see his variety, you could see his level of talent was superior.
  • River was a good friend of mine. He is someone who i will always hold very close to my heart. He was someone who understood a lot of things about me that no one else has ever understood about me. He was very insightful, intelligent. Probably the kindest person i ever met in my life and he also had a lot of problems, you know? and because of that.. I cant exactly say why, you know? He made some bad mistakes and he died. Everybody makes mistakes, you know? It's just a shame when they happen to be fatal.
  • He was a great actor and a great young man; a great human being. He had a great family, a very level view of life, and a promising future.
  • When a role for a young guy is offered to me, I think of River Phoenix. It feels like a loss.
  • When he made a choice to do something, boy, he followed through with it and with a sincerity that was captivating and striking.
  • In River's case, i think it was more a shame that he was born than that he died. Because he didn't like this life, he didn't like this place and he's in a better place now.
  • He was my brother and I loved him a great deal. It was just an awful, awful mistake. We fed off each other and learned a lot from each other.
  • River Phoenix played my son and I came to love him like a son. I was proud to watch him grow into a man of such talent, integrity and passion.
  • I wasn't jealous of River. I was in agony with jealously over River.
  • You can’t blame Hollywood for what happened to River. Kids are doing drugs everywhere in the world. He had his own very personal problems. I will never discuss with the press. They’re just way too personal. River had a self-destructive side to his personality. He was angry and hurt that he couldn’t have a private life once he became famous. He just couldn’t deal with having his private life on the front page all the time.
  • I don't have any friends in the business. Just River. Oh where, oh where has my Juliet gone?
  • River was a remarkable artist and a rare human being. I miss him every day.
  • River was the greatest actor of my generation at that time. He was so brave and so raw and so honest in his work. He really was such an inspiration to anyone in their teens and twenties at that time. Not to mention adults, who worked with him, who were so blown away by his talent.
  • He was very serious. Always a little worried and..complete genius. He was impossible to take your eyes off of.
  • After River's death, I felt like I was in an altered state. It took me over a year to get my life back.
  • River and I would talk about getting old, being in our 50s together, how it'd probably take us that long to get to work together. There was something gorgeous about us being old together. River will be missed — period. I mean now, more than ever I wish I could talk to him.
  • I've heard stuff about how the night River died he was partying and all that — it's so untrue. That night we were together. He was just playing guitar. He wanted to show me a new song. And... I wanted to go out to see Flea play, because I'd never seen him play before. River wanted to go home, just hang out, play guitar. I was the one who wanted to go out and he was just making sure to take care of me.
  • I'm proud of my brother. I would never not want to be associated with him.

Songs which mention River Phoenix

  • And they told me
    The times have changed
    Cause' our parents had Hendrix, Janis and Jim
    But what about River Phoenix and Kurt Cobain.
  • There's a River born to be a giver
    Keep you warm, wont let you shiver
    His heart is never gonna wither
    come on everybody time to deliver.
  • And they say he's too young to surrender
    And they cry out, and they call him by name.
    Their graffiti tells how he's remembered.
    Still, the River runs on just the same. Run River, run.
  • No...Please don't go...No...Please don't leave yet
    You haven't heard my band yet
    You haven't seem my house
    You cannot understand yet
    What it means to be old
    River run
    River deep
    River come, So I can sing you to sleep.
  • Heroines followin' Marilyn hoppin' over the edge just like Janis Joplin,
    River Phoenix, Jimi Hendrix, James Morrison
    All of them ended by Hollywood.
    Thank God for Hollywood,
    Hollywood, Sure you want this baby?
  • We didn't know jackie O
    She was one of the people that we did not know
    Nor did we care about her hair,
    Her pillbox hat or her savoir faire.
    But still we thought we knew
    Maybe you did too
    River phoenix
    River phoenix
    Ian curtis
    and River Phoenix and me and you
  • They had a crush on you, River
    Blue suede jacket and boots, River
    And your face shaped like a moon, River
    You were like my own James Byron Dean
    Private idaho was my east of eden
    Hit me like a stone when you passed away
    On Halloween
  • I remember I was In the tanning salon
    When I heard that River Phoenix was gone
    They say that only the good die young
    But that ain't true where I come from
    California, California

External links

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