River Phoenix, the highly celebrated and much-loved actor, musician, and activist was revered by many as the rising star of Hollywood prior to his untimely death on October 31st, 1993. When he passed, the world mourned the loss not only of talent but of potential for goodness.
The eldest brother to Rain, Joaquin, Liberty, and Summer, River emerged as a child actor at the young 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 Me, Running on Empty, My Own Private Idaho and more. It was a stunning career cut short.
His 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, losing his life on the pavement outside West Hollywood nightclub The Viper Room. River was just 23 years of age.
The work that River put in prior to his death, combined with his beguiling personality, means that his legacy is longstanding. Both on and off-set, he touched the hearts of many. You only need to look as far as Leonardo DiCaprio, Jared Leto, James Franco and more who have all referenced River as a major influence on their decision to enter the world of cinema, inspired by his work and his words.
With all that in mind, we decided to dip back into the Far Out Vault to dig out a classic interview with a still teenage star, the17-year-old River Phoenix, who is appearing on national television in promotion of his most recent film Running on Empty. The film, a 1988 drama film directed by Sidney Lumet, tells the story of a counterculture couple who are on the run from the FBI.
The story develops as one of their sons begins to break out of this fugitive lifestyle in search of a different way of living. Phoenix would go on to earn a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at for the Academy Awards for his role in the film and resulted in him being given the chance to live out an ambition of learning the piano.
In a fascinatingly sincere interview, River is asked about his family dynamic given the high profile status of his parents and siblings, to which he answers: “We replace the guilt that most give each other when they’re upset with real, honest feelings,” among other points.
Enjoy the clip, below.