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
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  • Sarah T.
    2 days

    you was on about this last night! How weird that it pops up today 🤔😂 x

  • Bernadette W.
    2 days

    Bless and bless Joaquin for having the strength to continue his brothers legacy.

  • Sabine F.
    2 days


  • Julie W.
    2 days

    He was one of my favorites. Such a talent. I remember the day he died. It was so sad. He always seemed to be in such pain. So does his brother. Which I get because of their bond. But I think they always felt more deeply them others. Tapped in to others in a more deep way. Bless him.

  • Amanda J.
    3 days

    I question his death every day now! What a waste, such awesome talent, born the same year as me 💔

  • Nbn N.
    3 days


  • Miranda S.
    4 days

    So sad😪

  • Michelle H.
    4 days

    . Never new it was rivers brother x

  • Adaora M.
    4 days

    He died of overdose of speedball a mixture of cocaine and heroin, the same drug that killed John Belushi, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Chris Farley. An extremely dangerous combination.

  • Jessie M.
    4 days

    John fruciante and river Phoenix did heroin and John bought bad dope

  • Jessie M.
    4 days

    Vegan heroin addicts are awesome people

  • Brooke L.
    5 days

    I had no idea they were brothers!

  • Leslie R.
    5 days

    Vegan, PETA member, drugs. Mmmm interesting

  • Erin M.
    5 days

    What a shame great talent. He would be amazing till this day if he was still with us. So very sad 😂

  • Fariha H.
    5 days

    If he was a Muslim he would known drugs and alcohol r not allowed. Inna lilahi wA Inna ilahi rajioon ( from God we come and return to).

  • Merk J.
    5 days

    Oh cool I didn’t know heroin was vegan friendly

  • Angela M.
    5 days


  • Annabel M.
    5 days


  • Natalie A.
    5 days

    watch all of this

  • Marian M.
    6 days