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.


11/22/2019 11:19 AM


  • Cheryl M.
    12 hours

    River was super talented we lost a rising star outside the Viper that night such a tragedy .. Joaquin took up the reigns so glad he continued acting..

  • Tjaša K.
    3 days

    river omg 😐💛

  • Arindam P.
    3 days

    The Phoenix family and Its influence on JP, I told you about

  • Lynne W.
    5 days


  • Elaine C.
    6 days

    So sad would have been great if they got to a movie together stand by me is my favourite movie from 1986

  • Greg T.
    6 days

    You ever seen the documentary about Joaquin?

  • Lynette F.
    7 days

    Joaquin was so cute as a little boy... cant believe how many great young actors lives are cut short with drugs. . ..they have everything and waste their money on drugs trying to find some kind of satisfaction...go work in a soup kitchen once a week and donate some money to animal shelters and stuff like that... you'd find it much healthier and so much better outcomes. ♡♡

  • Bobby M.
    09/20/2020 20:49

    River was was his older brother

  • Jeff G.
    09/20/2020 20:00

    Hahah fish being killed in a vicious way. Flake. Bonked on the head or neck snapped? Or was it people getting off on fish torture?

  • Brandy S.
    09/20/2020 18:47

    He will be missed

  • Tiago T.
    09/20/2020 13:00

    .. meh

  • Sherri M.
    09/20/2020 05:06

    Wake UP JOAQUIN !!!

  • Lloyd T.
    09/20/2020 04:08

    Leaf Phoneix. His real name is Leaf.

  • Suzie J.
    09/20/2020 01:43

    i think Joaquin Phoenix is a fabulous actor.

  • Mike P.
    09/19/2020 12:03

    Don’t eat meat but do drugs? What a contradiction!!

  • Robby B.
    09/19/2020 01:05

    Sad but I mean in all honesty you do hard drugs and don't think about consequences. I mean you go vegan cause animals are being killed. But you do drugs cause who cares? I mean look at the people we have lost because of drugs. Philip seymour hoffman was a great actor.

  • Javier R.
    09/18/2020 20:33

    Loved "THE MOSQUITO COAST"! Wow! Did not know he was also a Jew! Cool!! RIP!

  • Linda M.
    09/18/2020 17:54

    still breaks my heart 😥

  • Stefie D.
    09/18/2020 11:31

    Running on Empty was such a brilliantly beautiful film. A favourite in my teens

  • Gloria B.
    09/18/2020 10:34

    Brilliant idiot, vegan,& then overdosed

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