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


  • Wanda C.
    2 days

    No matter what people say about rivers I thought he was a good actor

  • Lama M.
    5 days


  • Debbie N.
    04/10/2021 22:51

    So cute I love this family ! Suck talent !

  • Linda O.
    04/09/2021 07:18

    Joaquin, his name was Leaf and he changed it.

  • Eileen C.
    04/08/2021 14:33

    Drugs ! What a waste So sad. 🥲choices one makes !!!!

  • Pat P.
    04/03/2021 17:40

    At such a young age River Phoenix and his siblings were so aware of what was going on. And it changed their life forever. Very talented actor but as he said he wasn’t comfortable in front of the camera

  • Darren R.
    04/03/2021 12:15

  • Anna R.
    04/03/2021 11:44

    Gone to soon just like the rest of them. Why don't they'll get help? Family, friends a stranger even. Why don't anyone intercede with the individual. Too many beautiful people are leaving this world to soon to drugs, alcohol and depression. Help!

  • Theo C.
    04/02/2021 13:38

    Beautiful boy and man

  • Grace C.
    04/01/2021 18:55

    John 3:16-17 New International Version 16 For God so loved(A) the world that he gave(B) his one and only Son,(C) that whoever believes(D) in him shall not perish but have eternal life.(E) 17 For God did not send his Son into the world(F) to condemn the world, but to save the world through him

  • Jacki R.
    03/29/2021 03:42

    People in the Viper club were jealous of River and set him up....

  • Hazel T.
    03/26/2021 16:29

    No fish, but drugs ok !

  • Susana R.
    03/25/2021 05:01

    River,so handsome and good in acting.gone too soon

  • Maggie M.
    02/24/2021 22:50

    So sad that River died as his brother was such a great support. Such a talent give too soon.

  • Jean M.
    01/21/2021 00:14


  • 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 😔

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