back

The Life of River Phoenix

Without his older brother, Joaquin Phoenix may not have become the actor he is today. River Phoenix was a rising star who died at 23 — this is his story.

'The Vegan James Dean'

He was Joaquin Phoenix’s brother, role model and he was a rising star in Hollywood, he died at the age of 23, this is River Phoenix. River Phoenix or River Bottom, his real name, was born in 1970, in Oregon. At the age of 2, his family joined the cult The Family International and moved to Venezuela. He grew up with his three sisters and his brother, all younger than him: Rain, Liberty, Summer and Joaquin.

In 1977, his family left the cult, moved back to the United States and changed their last name to Phoenix. At 7, he decided to go vegan with his sisters and brother. As a child, his parents encouraged him to become an actor. At 16, he got noticed thanks to his role in "Stand by Me” and "Mosquito Coast" alongside Harrison Ford. Two years later, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in “Running on Empty.” In 1989, he played the role of young Indiana in Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.” At that time, he encouraged his brother Joaquin to work on his acting. With his sister, he also became involved in the Peta association against wearing fur.

At 21, he stole the show in Gus Van Sant's "My Own Private Idaho", playing the role of an outsider who prostitutes himself alongside Keanu Reeves. On the night of October 30 to 31, 1993, he died of an overdose in the arms of his brother in front of a nightclub in Los Angeles owned by Johnny Depp. Dubbed "The Vegan James Dean", he was a staunch defender of animal welfare and just as staunchly dedicated to what we now call sustainability, buying up chunks of rainforest to protect it from logging. River Phoenix was 23 years old.

Brut.

11/22/2019 11:19 AM

1503 comments

  • Ryan O.
    4 days

    I'd say his brother is hurting everyday

  • Vic K.
    5 days

    Its kind of weird that Johnny Depp have the same hair style as River Phoenix

  • Giovanna M.
    07/11/2021 19:54

    Non ti mangi la carne ma ti pippi la coca… bravo

  • Francoise R.
    07/05/2021 16:46

    Acteur extraordinaire

  • Traci B.
    07/02/2021 02:42

    So sad

  • Mikko G.
    06/29/2021 12:08

    Such a massive fan.

  • Patty M.
    06/23/2021 02:15

    What a shame

  • Jamie L.
    06/14/2021 04:10

    Theres a gap there... and you have to mind the gap.

  • Kris V.
    06/06/2021 23:01

    This is just too sad.

  • CaroleAnn N.
    06/04/2021 21:07

    so sad, cause he was so young and had so much to lived for! RIP Rivers

  • Eleanor M.
    06/01/2021 21:37

    I remember this like it was yesterday.. I use to have pics of him on my wall as a teen from the heartthrob magz... so sad..what a loss..

  • Brenda R.
    05/31/2021 19:39

    Who killed him. Not what.

  • Michelle M.
    05/30/2021 00:09

    Dont do drugs kids

  • Marilyn M.
    05/22/2021 20:00

    River was great in I Love You To Death.

  • Alden A.
    05/21/2021 18:46

    🟢�ECGOV#REWORK👍🏽👀🧠👁👤✍🏽😎#NYCGOV🏽🏛ORSA#BeaNYLmfaD #Economy🏁 #for everyone #BoardOfEducation📚📖

  • Shy R.
    05/21/2021 06:19

    Sad how we Lost a lot of Great Actors from drugs!

  • Kumar G.
    05/19/2021 06:25

    Im vegan but i do drugs

  • Simon W.
    05/17/2021 23:38

    Joaquin Pheonix Is 1 of the best actors, So Convincing, I hated him as Commadis In Gladiator, & Joker was a whole new level.

  • Christine L.
    05/17/2021 04:16

    Loved him. So sad that he died so young.

  • Cik F.
    05/14/2021 22:54

    Such a talented actor yet gone to soon humm 😭😭😭