The young and talented actor would turn 50 today
The Top 5 Essential River Phoenix Movies and His Life and Career
River Phoenix was one of the most promising and talented actors of his generation, the young Hollywood star was born River Jude Phoenix on August 23, 1970, in Madras, Oregon. Raised within a Christian new religious movement, called the Children of God, that his parents joined as missionaries and settled in Caracas, Venezuela to work as missionaries and fruit gatherers. Phoenix was a talented child from an early age, often working as a child music performer in the streets of Micanopy, Florida, and later in Caracas, Venezuela for money and food to support their ever-growing family. In 1991, Phoenix stated he lost his virginity at age four while in the Children of God, “but I’ve blocked it out.” During the late 1970’s the family abandoned the cult and moved back to the U.S. The young Phoenix began his acting career at age 10, in television commercials and starring in some TV series. His first notable film role came in 1985 in the Si-Fi adventure movie “Explorers” alongside an also young Ethan Hawke. He established himself as one of the most promising actors of his generation in the 1986 blockbuster “Stand By Me”, a coming of age film based on the Stephen King novel “The Body”, with co-stars Corey Feldman, Kiefer Sutherland, Wil Wheaton and Jerry O’ Connell. Aged only 16, he quickly made the transition into more adult-oriented movies due to his unique talent and charisma as an actor. In 1986 he starred in “The Mosquito Coast” alongside Harrison Ford, and in 1988 on the popular drama “Running on Empty” , playing the son of fugitive parents in a well-received performance that earned him a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. During his short career, he also starred once again alongside Harrison Ford and Sean Connery on the third movie of the Indiana Jones series, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” in 1989, playing a young Indiana Jones. One of his most acclaimed performances came in 1991 with the Gus Van Sants “My Own Private Idaho”, where together with Keanu Reeves played the role of a teenage gay prostitute living in the streets that suffered from narcolepsy, in an endless search for his lost mother. Reportedly, Phoenix researched the role so deep that sources claim it was during this period the young actor started to use drugs when living for a short period of time within actual street prostitutes. The role earned him an Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead, a National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor, a Volpi Cup for Best Actor and a nomination for New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor where he got second place. Famous for his healthy lifestyle that included being a vegetarian and a non-smoker, Phoenix was a dedicated animal rights, environmental and political activist. River who never stopped playing music started to invest more time on it during the early 90’s with his own band Aleka’s Attic that also featured his sister Rain. Also during the early 1990’s, Phoenix starred in several successful movies, becoming a prolific and versatile actor, but to everyone’s shock, his life was cut short on Halloween night 1993, when he died from a heroin and cocaine overdose, outside Sunset Strip club The Viper Room in Hollywood, at the time owned by actor Johnny Deep, during a night out with some of his siblings, including also actor Joaquin Phoenix and his friend Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. River Phoenix was only 23, and he was scheduled to appear in the upcoming movie “Interview With A Vampire” as well as playing the role of French poet Rimbaud, and was replaced on the first by Christian Slater and on the later by Leonardo DiCaprio. At the time of his death, Phoenix was finishing a new movie, “Dark Blood”, that was released posthumously. Several artists and celebrities paid tribute to Phoenix after his death, including Tom Petty who dedicated him “Ballad of Easy Rider”, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain who dedicated the song “Jesus Don’t Want Me For A Sunbeam” in 1993 and R.E.M that in a curious twist of events dedicated their 1994 album “Monster” both to Phoenix and Cobain who died only a few months after him. River Phoenix was a close friend of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and on the awarded music video “Under The Bridge”, the footage filmed from inside a car was shot by him. The unique talent of River Phoenix is not forgotten, we remember his essential Top 5 movies today that he would turn 50.
5 – “The Mosquito Coast”, 1986
4 – “Little Nikita”, 1988
3 – “Running on Empty”, 1988
2- “My Own Private Idaho”, 1991
1 – “Stand by Me”, 1986
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