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Today Would Have Been River Phoenix''s 41st Birthday

Any fans?

For those lucky few who had the opportunity to watch River Phoenix%E2%80%99s film career blossom right in front of their eyes, there%E2%80%99s no doubt it%E2%80%99s the sort of bragging rights they wish they didn%E2%80%99t have. Because for all those who had the chance to experience the young actor%E2%80%99s star-making turns in films like Running on Empty, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, My Own Private Idaho, and of course, Stand By Me, they also had to watch it all come to a sudden end when Phoenix, the eldest brother of Joaquin, passed away at the age of 23 from a drug overdose on October 31, 1993.

Today, August 23, marks what would have been Phoenix%E2%80%99s 41st birthday, and much like the tragic legacy of fallen stars like Heath Ledger and James Dean, he left us far too soon, with a looming, overwhelming sense of what could have been. While his career sadly only lasted a decade, there%E2%80%99s no question that he%E2%80%99d left an indelible mark on screen during his all-too-short time. Having earned a Golden Globe and Oscar nomination for his work as Danny, a talented pianist and son of two fugitives in Running on Empty, all we can do now, sadly, is speculate that he likely would have been up to those podiums plenty times more.

Still, for many fans, the ultimate love letter to Phoenix, and the testament to his talents, was his performance as Chris Chambers in Rob Reiner%E2%80%99s timeless coming-of-age tale Stand By Me. Phoenix played the part of the quietly intense, but devoted pal (who didn%E2%80%99t want a best friend like him growing up?) Chris with an earnestness and effortlessness that actors twice his age couldn%E2%80%99t have pulled off. It%E2%80%99s still nearly impossible to not get a lump in your throat and curse the irony of it all when, at the end of Stand By Me, you find out how his character passed away well before his time: In a tragic, most unfair way.

How do you remember River Phoenix best, PopWatchers? Which performance made you realize he was bound to be a big star?

by Miareply 11201/28/2013

I'm convinced that River was either gay or bi, and that both Keanu Reeves and Johnny Depp fucked his hole.%0D %0D River was a beautiful kid, and either he and Keanu or he and Johnny would have made a beautiful couple.

by Miareply 108/24/2011

I love this photo...

by Miareply 208/24/2011

River and Johnny about to kiss...

by Miareply 308/24/2011

1993 was a looong time ago

by Miareply 408/24/2011

He would very likely have been re-fat by now. Maybe even brandoesque.

by Miareply 508/24/2011

So last year would have been the big surprise party?

by Miareply 608/24/2011

His brother got sort of fat for a while didn't he.

by Miareply 708/24/2011

He was a great actor. I wonder how his career would have evolved had he lived.

by Miareply 808/24/2011

He was really good in "My Own Private Idaho". He was like Heath Ledger in that he didn't realize how dangerous the drugs he was using were.

by Miareply 908/24/2011

God, he was fucking amazing in Running on Empty. That is the only movie that has ever made me fucking sob.

by Miareply 1008/24/2011

I can't believe they pay people to write pointless articles like this. I mean, who the fuck even cares that it would have been some dead guy's 41st birthday! Will there be another stupied article next year about how would have been his 42nd?????

by Miareply 1108/24/2011

I loved this boy. I cried when he died; we're the same age. I suspect though that he'd either be a sloppy mess (a la Val Kilmer), a disappointment, or a has-been today. I think his death helped Johnny and Keanu change their behavior and become more successful, and practically gave Leo DiCaprio his career.

by Miareply 1208/24/2011

I saw a documentary about children who grew up in the Children of God cult and they had a ceremony where they read the names of the kids who grew up in the cult and died young, and they mentioned him. It was a very sad moment.

by Miareply 1308/24/2011

[quote]and practically gave Leo DiCaprio his career.

Pretty much.

by Miareply 1408/24/2011

I loved Dogfight with Lili Taylor. Great movie and he looked so hot as a Marine.

And I can watch the opening to My Own Private Idaho over and over and over.

by Miareply 1508/24/2011

Kelli (from Nick and Kelli) fame claims to have dated him.

by Miareply 1608/24/2011

Watching My Own Private Idaho makes me miss the early 90's.

by Miareply 1708/24/2011

I can't imagine how Joaquin wouldn't be fucked up for the rest of his life.

by Miareply 1808/24/2011

River getting a blowjob. HAWT!

by Miareply 1908/24/2011

"And now, my lucky forty-fourth little Dutch boy..."

by Miareply 2008/24/2011

A shame that he died so young. He really was talented. But he must have had a lot of self-hatred, like a lot of people who have been molested as children do.%0D %0D The coroner's report said that on the night of his death he had ingested eight times the lethal dose of cocaine, four times the lethal dose of heroin, as well as traces of marijuana, Valium, and ephedrine, the last and over the counter cold medication. Cause of death: "multiple drug intoxication."%0D %0D He must have had a death wish to do that to himself.

by Miareply 2108/24/2011

It's a shame he couldn't have lived another 4 years.

by Miareply 2208/24/2011

I remember sitting in a theater watching MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO the first day it opened. When it began and the infamous blowjob scene came on, I looked over and saw an embarrassed group of older, suburbanite grannies seated nearby. I'm guessing that the word IDAHO in the title made them think that it was a film about farmers.

I'm sure it was an interesting silence in the car ride home.

by Miareply 2308/24/2011

[quote]For those lucky few who had the opportunity to watch River Phoenix's film career blossom right in front of their eyes, there's no doubt it's the sort of bragging rights they wish they didn't have.

Somebody slap him.

by Miareply 2408/24/2011

Watching My Own Private Idaho makes me miss hustling.

by Miareply 2508/24/2011

[quote]Will there be another stupied article...%0D %0D Don't you love it when this happens?%0D %0D I was watching Stand By Me the other day and wondered how old he'd be now.%0D %0D If he hadn't died, I think he would have been a mess throughout his 20s and early 30s but then might have gotten it all together to become great.

by Miareply 2608/24/2011

He would have been infinitely better as Jack in "Titanic." DiCaprio would be doing sitcoms now.

by Miareply 2708/24/2011

Incredible scene from My Own Private Idaho.. RIP Bro!

by Miareply 2808/24/2011

Adored River. His brother wishes he had even an ounce of River's talent. He would have DiCaprio's career and most likely an Oscar by now. Not to mention he was stunningly beautiful.

by Miareply 2908/24/2011

And now we're left with a harelipped reminder of what might have been....

by Miareply 3008/24/2011

wonder if Leo ever thinks about Rio, as he was known to his friends, basically giving him his incredible career? I think he would have continued to have been messed up but still considered iconic and eccentric like Johnny Depp.

by Miareply 3108/25/2011

[quote]I looked over and saw an embarrassed group of older, suburbanite grannies seated nearby. I'm guessing that the word IDAHO in the title made them think that it was a film about farmers.

They were B-52s groupies.

by Miareply 3208/25/2011

You think he would have done Titanic? I can't really see that. He would have been good for Catch Me If You Can definitely.

by Miareply 3308/25/2011

Leo mentioned River in Rolling Stone last year, although not by name.

I don't however think River would have ever done Titanic and probably would have been too old for Gilbert Grape. But there is no doubt Leo came up in the void River left.

[quote]%E2%80%9CI got to be wild and nuts, and I didn%E2%80%99t suffer as much as people do now, where they have to play it so safe that they ruin their credibility. I didn%E2%80%99t care what anyone thought%E2%80%A6 It was also about avoiding the tornado of chaos, of potential downfall. It was, %E2%80%98Wow, how lucky are we to not have hung out with that crowd or done those things?%E2%80%99 My two main competitors in the beginning, the blond-haired kids I went to audition with, one hung himself and the other died of a heroin overdose%E2%80%A6 I was never into drugs at all. There aren%E2%80%99t stories of me in a pool of my own vomit in a hotel room on the Hollywood Strip.%E2%80%9D

by Miareply 3408/25/2011

Who hung himself?

by Miareply 3508/25/2011

Jonathan Brandis

by Miareply 3608/25/2011

Yes. Phenomenal actor.

by Miareply 3708/25/2011

"Stand by Me" is one of the best coming-of-age movies.

His line towards the end "I just wish that I could go some place where nobody knows me." tears me up every time.

by Miareply 3808/25/2011

He's not talking about River there, but some kid who is actually his and Jonathan Brandis' age. (Leo wouldn't have gone to auditions with River as a kid.) I forgot his name, just as everyone else because he clearly didn't have a very successful career.

by Miareply 3908/25/2011

Leo talking about River:

[quote]When I was 18, River Phoenix was far and away my hero. I always wanted to meet him. One night, I was at this Halloween party, and he passed me. He was beyond pale -- he looked white. Before I got a chance to say hello, he was gone, driving off to the Viper Room, where he fell over and died. That's a lesson.

by Miareply 4008/25/2011

When asked by a writer about his attitude on drugs River Phoenix said this (which is further proof that you can't believe anything a celebrity says):%0D %0D "I've always shied away from the seedy side of Hollywood. I don't do drugs, I get a big enough high from life without trying anything like that. I'm so straight I don't eat meat and even my dogs are vegetarians."%0D %0D Soon afterward when asked directly if he told the truth in interviews he said: "I deal with a lot of phonies. I'm not going to give my truth to the phonies. Everything you say they lie and change anyway so maybe if you lie and give them bullshit, it will come out being truthful."

by Miareply 4108/25/2011

Anyone want to see the photo of River in his casket??%0D %0D It's not too gruesome, but it's not exactly pleasant.

by Miareply 4208/25/2011

[quote]Kelli (from Nick and Kelli) fame claims to have dated him

Who or what the fuck is "Nick and Kelli", and who are the schmucks pretending that those cunts have fame?

by Miareply 4308/25/2011

He wouldn't have aged well; small, blonde, cute, delicate-featured men rarely do. (See Mark Hammill below) That and his interest in drugs would have stalled his career as early as his late 20s, no matter how talented he was.%0D %0D Leo DeCaprio has a more angular face, and while he hasn't aged particularly well, he managed the transition to adult roles River might never have made. Leo also seems to have the smarts to make the most of his meager talents, while thanks to his awful family, River had no education and major psychological issues.%0D %0D There's more to a career than talent, boys.%0D %0D

by Miareply 4408/25/2011

Mark Hamill is the last person you want to use as an example of aging badly.

He was in a disfiguring car accident right after Star Wars.

His face has never looked the same.

Lucas even had "Luke" get bitch-slapped by a snow beast at the beginning of Empire to explain his new fucked up face.

by Miareply 4508/25/2011

MEH. I think the only reason he is "canonized" is because he died. He was a pretty young man but I never found him especially interesting. I hated that "Idaho" movie. I remember thinking "This is pretentious and dull. " Like that recent Tom Ford debacle (An Ordinary Man?) where characters just stare into space a lot and nothing ever happens. Yes, so "deep," so "intellectual," so "fill in all the gaps of their existential angst." YAWN. River MIGHT have done more with his career or he might have disappeared into anonymity or "indie world." He would have had Johnny Depp's career, to an extent, I think. Outre roles. But that "troubled, tortured, gorgeous young punk with a misunderstood heart" stuff? I GOT what his persona was supposed to be on film and what his image was. And about ten minutes of that at a time was enough for me. Very sad that he died the way he did but, like about a zillion other drug induced Hollywood and music world deaths, it was by his own hand. Not sure who or what is to "blame" for that and it is always sad.

by Miareply 4608/26/2011

Can you believe how fucking long ago 1993 was?

by Miareply 4708/26/2011

Emile Hirsch kind of reminds me of River.

by Miareply 4808/26/2011

He was beautiful, a total Adonis. I think in a lot of his roles he had such grace and presence that i automatically thought he was a brilliant actor.

Truth is, i don't know if he is or not. I always get distracted by how precious he was! Especially in Idaho. Very fallen angel, right?

by Miareply 4908/26/2011

Dicaprio still would've had a career if Phoenix hadn't died. Leo was a few years younger, and River would have been too old for Gilbert Grape, Romeo and Juliet and Titanic.

by Miareply 5008/26/2011

He was the perfect movie star for the early 90s, the era of "heroin chic."

by Miareply 5108/26/2011

One less dead idiot sucking up air.

by Miareply 5208/26/2011

Judy Davis is responsible for River's death.

How does she sleep at night, knowing that fact?

by Miareply 5308/26/2011

She never took responsibility but she should, Royal bitch.

by Miareply 5408/26/2011

He hated acting. He didn't know how lucky he was. Joaquin is even better than River but no appreciation of his gift or the money he makes.

by Miareply 5508/26/2011

Seriously, lots of drugs on the set of Idaho. River died of an overdose, Rodney Harvey died of an overdose, how did Keanu make it through? Oh, his girlfiend died...

by Miareply 5608/26/2011

I%E2%80%99m not sure %E2%80%9Clucky%E2%80%9D is the right word here. He was born into a sex cult and then started working for Hollywood and was the money maker for his family. His heavy drug use was not a mark of someone happy, it sounds like he badly wanted to escape reality.%0D %0D Anyone saw the 12 hours project of Idaho?

by Miareply 5708/26/2011

I didn't see it but I wonder if there was anything interesting in it. Gus would out someone, if given the chance.

by Miareply 5808/26/2011

R42, that was unplesant. He must have been a mess to look that bad in the casket.

by Miareply 5908/26/2011

It was going to be closed casket but you are right...looked like no one had worked on him.

by Miareply 6008/26/2011

He had bruises all over his face and neck, and his mouth looked like it was sewn shut. He looked awful!

by Miareply 6108/26/2011

River's last film, "The Thing Called Love," is depressing viewing. He looks like crap and his performance is terrible -- he's obviously on drugs.

by Miareply 6208/26/2011

That poster did not supply a link to Phoenix in his casket. What the fuck are you all looking at?

by Miareply 6308/26/2011

r47, I know. When I see pics of how everyone still seemed to have padded shoulders and big hair even in '93, I laugh. We all looked so different. The music was different. And yet, I remember thinking I was SOOO grown up and worldly.

by Miareply 6408/26/2011

yeah, but it's not because he was a stupid drug addict. unfortunate but I don't feel sorry for people who kill themselves. I feel bad for people with cancer who never smoked and have died. I don't feel bad for River Phoenix, Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger, etc.

by Miareply 6508/26/2011

Judy Davis is directly responsible for River's death. Why not more anger towards her.

by Miareply 6608/26/2011

R63, just Google Image "River Phoenix Death" and it's the first picture that comes up.

R65, I do laugh at vegetarians who end up dying from using hard drugs. You don't eat bacon, but you'll do speedballs? LOL.

by Miareply 6708/26/2011

People who read about what was going on in River's life, were angry with her. I believe the director was really angry with her.%0D %0D Harvey's manager was angry with Gus.

by Miareply 6808/26/2011

I think he was vegan because he didn't like animal cruelty.

by Miareply 6908/26/2011

I don't know why someone can't do a film of his life. The sex scenes would be pretty great.

by Miareply 7008/26/2011

The DA should gave gone after Judy Davis for manslaughter in the death of River Phoenix

by Miareply 7108/26/2011

R53 huh? advise

by Miareply 7208/26/2011

How was Davis responsible for his death? Could anyone explain, or post a link?

by Miareply 7308/26/2011

Why Judy Davis is Considered a Bitch...

She worked with River Phoenix on his last film. The film was never completed because of how he died. It was obvious to all who worked on the film that River Phoenix was tremendously out of sorts while attempting to work on that film. Everyone tried to treat him decently (even though they should have given him a good talking to) except for Judy Davis.

Judy Davis treated River Phoenix horribly. She was unmercifully verbally abusive and cruel to him. She even mocked his Veganism all the fucking time.

Did Judy Davis drive River Phoenix to death? Why, hell no!

Did Judy Davis lead a man who was obviously out of sorts with a drug and drink issue to get heavily loaded during a quick break in filming? Why, hell yes!

...And that is the sad but true story as to why Judy Davis is a bitch. But, at the rate he was going if it was not her it would have been someone or something else without a doubt.

by Miareply 7408/26/2011

She doesn't work that much, does she?

by Miareply 7508/28/2011

Guys which are the best movies of River Phoenix apart from 'Stand By Me' and 'My Own Private Idaho'?

by Miareply 7612/24/2012

I want to know who his real father is. He doesn't look at all like any of his siblings and just barely like his mother. I bet his real dad was the leader of the cult. Or a little boy.

by Miareply 7712/24/2012

I still remember a clueless fangurl coworker getting pissed at me and not speaking to me for a couple of days after I dared suggest he'd died from a drug OD. "You don't know what you're talking about," she said, "He's a vegetarian."

by Miareply 7812/24/2012

What's this I hear about he and Keanu being lovers? News to me.

by Miareply 7912/24/2012

He was a gifted actor. In fact, i'm sure that he could me more than Johnny Depp as an actor.

by Miareply 8012/24/2012

His absence is noticeable.

by Miareply 8112/24/2012

He was so interesting to the eye in a not superficial way

by Miareply 8212/24/2012

What a pity he got deep into drugs

Fuck it.

by Miareply 8312/24/2012

Gone too soon

by Miareply 8412/24/2012


by Miareply 8512/24/2012

A distinctive figure

by Miareply 8612/24/2012

Who was really River Phoenix?

What were his needs?

by Miareply 8712/24/2012

Why he got addicted to drugs? What led him to that addiction?

by Miareply 8812/24/2012

i like his face and his acting

by Miareply 8912/24/2012

Most promising is a characterizasion that really defined River Phoenix

by Miareply 9012/24/2012

A talented actor and a charming young man gone too soon...

by Miareply 9112/24/2012

Certainly charming

by Miareply 9212/24/2012

I wonder what kind of music he liked, which bands, which singers he enjoyed and i would love to know some of the books he had read...

by Miareply 9312/24/2012

I like this photo a lot

by Miareply 9412/24/2012


by Miareply 9512/24/2012


by Miareply 9612/24/2012

Is there anybody out there who didn't like him?

That would be strange...

by Miareply 9712/24/2012

'Stand by Me'


by Miareply 9812/24/2012

One of the most beautiful photos that depict male bond

by Miareply 9912/24/2012

*male bonding

by Miareply 10012/24/2012

River Phoenix had great chemistry with Keanu Reeves

by Miareply 10112/24/2012

You don't have birthdays when you're dead.

by Miareply 10212/24/2012


by Miareply 10312/24/2012

A beautiful young man

by Miareply 10412/24/2012

Sorry for the two photos you sent in the beginning guys, i posted them again because i got excited.

River could have played a big river of roles...

River Phoenix...

by Miareply 10512/24/2012

No it wouldn't be because he died.

by Miareply 10612/24/2012

River away...

by Miareply 10712/24/2012

He wouldn't have aged well.

Around age 30, small men with delicately pretty features tend to go from youthful loveliness, to the face of a gnome.

by Miareply 10812/24/2012

River Phoenix could be all the things Di Caprio can't be or refuses to be. Di Caprio's roles have become so predictable, so dry, so academic. Di Caprio is a good actor but he was a lot better in the beginning when he was experimenting as a young actor.

River Phoenix was so unpretentious when he was acting. I wish things had turned differently, why he had to go so soon? Anyway, i know the reply and i'm just not satisfied with it, that's why i ask again for a better answer. However, i'm afraid there is not a better one. I miss his face in the movies. Don't you?

by Miareply 10901/06/2013

He was right to the core as an actor.

by Miareply 11001/06/2013

Why the blame for Judy Davis? All the musicians that night at the Viper Room who told him he couldn't jam with them (Flea, Gibby Haines, Johnny Depp) are just as responsible.

by Miareply 11101/28/2013

"The DA should gave gone after Judy Davis for manslaughter in the death of River Phoenix"

I assume you're joking. Pretty lame joke.

Davis and Phoenix didn't like each other. That was all there was to it. No more, no less. That happens a lot on film sets. It's no big deal, unless it interferes with filming and causes holdups on the production.

The person who should have been arrested for manslaughter was the guy who gave Phoenix drugs in the bathroom of the Viper Room. Phoenix had already done a shitload of drugs; this guy offered him something he said would make him feel "fabulous" and he took it. Supposedly he thought it was cocaine, but it turned out to be some high-grade heroin. His system couldn't take any more and started to shut down, hence his seizures and flopping around on the sidewalk outside. Finally he just stopped breathing.

There was talk of arresting the guy who gave him the fatal heroin, but Phoenix's family declined to press charges. Their feeling was that the guy who gave their son/brother the heroin that killed him didn't mean any harm and River wouldn't have wanted him prosecuted. River Phoenix's family are incredible idiots.

by Miareply 11201/28/2013
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