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


  • Éva K.
    01/03/2021 17:49

    Still makes me sad to see videos and images of him, such a great loss.. how I wish he could still be around living a happy life! ❤️

  • Leah R.
    12/26/2020 09:01

    Why did he feel the need to do drugs to excess? He was living a vegan lifestyle, yet he was ok with doing drugs??? I feel very bad for him, but no one forced him to do this , but himself. It could have something the cult put in his thinking, or used drugs to keep people there??? Why did his parents join a cult??? That’s where you will find the answer! So sad, but his brother has been an incredible actor , and a beautiful Soul. He won’t be forgotten...❤️

  • Leanne H.
    12/14/2020 22:05

    How did he really die??... so young and he knew!!.. karma for the criminals 🙏

  • Sorcha R.
    12/06/2020 22:25

    such a beauty 🥺

  • Rastaa L.
    11/28/2020 02:21

    Young and beautiful....🖤 Gone too soon 😔

  • Tammy B.
    11/25/2020 21:14

    Loved him

  • Vanessa B.
    11/25/2020 18:33

    John Banister

  • Mike M.
    11/25/2020 00:10

    Vegans are so wierd

  • Judy H.
    11/23/2020 12:47

    So young RIP RIVER

  • Cheryl W.
    11/21/2020 01:18

    So sad such a talented actor gone too soon !

  • Lourdes G.
    11/17/2020 20:53

    Sad ...

  • Roger B.
    11/07/2020 20:31

    It is a waste of the life. God gave him a good life with lots of opportunities but he just spoiled everything. Such a shame.

  • Sav K.
    10/29/2020 15:34


  • Wanda A.
    10/29/2020 01:26

    I wonder who he would have become if he didn't get into acting maybe he would still be alive. Becoming a star and being able to get things more easily like drugs and being surrounded by people that have no problem seeing you messed up on drugs is not a good thing for someone that seems like a sensitive soul. It's a shame. I'm sure seeing his brother die like that helped keep Joaquin away from drugs and away from yes people.

  • Shirsha G.
    10/26/2020 08:30

    Its terrible.... i am a big fan of river phoenix ❤ he is still alive in my heart 🌻

  • Maria N.
    10/24/2020 23:30

    What a pity. Dear River 🍀🌸🎼✨

  • Elle K.
    10/21/2020 06:56


  • Toni H.
    10/19/2020 17:54

    Sad he died at such a young age.

  • JC W.
    10/19/2020 05:53


  • Eric O.
    10/11/2020 15:18

    Space camp like a muthafka

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