Below is a compiled list of the most interesting facts about River Phoenix. Check it out!
River Phoenix was born River Jude Bottom in Madras, Oregon. His mother, Arlyn (Dunetz), a Bronx-born secretary, and his father, John Bottom, a carpenter, met in California in 1968. They worked as itinerant fruit pickers, and later joined the Children of God religious group (John was originally Catholic, while Arlyn was born Jewish). By the time River was two, they were living in South America, where John was the sect’s Archbishop of Venezuela. They later left the group and, in 1977, moved back to the United States, changing their last name to “Phoenix”. They lived with River’s maternal grandparents in Florida, and later moved to Los Angeles. His parents encouraged all of their children to get into movies and, by age ten, River was acting professionally on TV. His film debut was in Explorers (1985), followed rapidly by box-office successes with Stand by Me (1986) and The Mosquito Coast (1986), and as young Indiana in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). His role as Danny Pope in Running on Empty (1988) earned him an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor. His best role was probably Mike, the hustler in My Own Private Idaho (1991).
Interesting Facts about River Phoenix
- Rufus Wainwright’s song “Matinee Idol” is about him.
- The 1994 R.E.M. album “Monster” is dedicated to River in the liner notes–he was friends with lead singer Michael Stipe.
- Ironically, despite his reputation for healthy living, Phoenix was a chain smoker. Peter Bogdanovich recalled, “He’d say about meat, ‘That’s not good for you, man, that’ll kill you.’ And he’d be smoking a cigarette, and he’d look at it and say, ‘I know, man, I know.'”
- Listed as one of twelve “Promising New Actors of 1986” in John Willis’ Screen World, Vol. 38.
- Once said “Acting is like a Halloween mask that you put on”. This was somewhat inadvertently prophetic: He died on Halloween Day 1993. It was also the 53 year anniversary of the Hollywood Palladium just a few miles east on Sunset Boulevard.
- Harrison Ford personally recommended him for the part of the young Indy in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) after working with him on The Mosquito Coast (1986). Ford stated that of all the young actors who were working at the time, River was the one who looked the most like himself when he was that age.
- Natalie Merchant wrote a song, “River,” which is in his memory. In addition, her song “Carnival” was inspired by him.
- Ashes scattered at family’s Florida Ranch.
- Died on John Candy’s 43rd and final birthday.
- His parents named him River after the river of life in Hermann Hesse’s classic spiritual novel “Siddhartha”; and Jude, his middle name, after The Beatles’ song “Hey, Jude.”
- Anonymous Australian alternative rock band TISM (an acronym of This Is Serious Mum) released a song in 1995 called “(He’ll Never Be An) Ol’ Man River” which dealt with celebrity deaths, specifically with the death of Phoenix and his drug habit which caused it. The main refrain of the song, which reportedly angered members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, was “I’m on the drug that killed River Phoenix”.
- Ranked #69 on The 100 Greatest Movie Stars (2003) on Channel 4 (UK).
Personal Quotes by River Phoenix
Music is a whole oasis in my head. The creation process is so personal and fulfilling.- River Phoenix
I sometimes lie, especially about personal things, because what does it matter? I am a kind of minute commodity, my name is no longer my own.- River Phoenix
When I was old enough to realize all meat was killed, I saw it as an irrational way of using our power, to take a weaker thing and mutilate it. It was like the way bullies would take control of younger kids in the schoolyard.- River Phoenix
Acting is like a Halloween mask that you put on.- River Phoenix
I would never, never do anything unless I believed in it.- River Phoenix