Joaquin Phoenix found himself in a particularly emotional mood when he was speaking at the Toronto International Film Festival, reflecting on important people in his life that have led him to this moment.

Phoenix, who is at the centre of an Oscars buzz following his performance in the lead role of new Todd Phillips film Joker, was receiving the TIFF Tribute Actor Award at the 2019 edition of the festival which will host a screening of his newest film.

Reflecting on his life, Phoenix remembered his late brother River, the highly celebrated and much-loved actor, musician, and activist who was revered by many as the rising star of Hollywood prior to his untimely death. The eldest brother to Rain, Joaquin, Liberty, and Summer, River emerged as a child actor at the age of 10 when he was cast in a series of different television commercials. On from there, River starred in the science fiction film Explorers in 1985 and didn’t look back, going on to make lead appearances in major films such as Stand by MeRunning on EmptyMy Own Private Idaho and more.

River’s rise to fame was fast and furious, leading the way as his highly professional family worked their way through numerous projects in the media. Tragically, however, River would succumb to an early death when he collapsed and died after a lethal combination of drug intoxication on the pavement outside West Hollywood nightclub The Viper Room. River was just 23 years of age. 

While speaking at the Toronto International Film Festival Tribute Gala, Joaquin Phoenix said: “When I was 15 or 16 my brother River came home from work and he had a VHS copy of a movie called ‘Raging Bull’ and he sat me down and made me watch it. And the next day he woke me up, and he made me watch it again. And he said, ‘You’re going to start acting again, this is what you’re going to do.”

“He didn’t ask me, he told me. And I am indebted to him for that because acting has given me such an incredible life.”

“I feel overwhelmed with emotion, because I’m just thinking about all the people that had such a profound influence on me,” Phoenix added. “When I was watching those clips, I thought about my family. My sisters Rain and Liberty and Summer, who are still my bests friends.”

See the clip, below.

[MORE] – Enjoy this wonderfully sincere interview with a young River Phoenix, 1988

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