×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Actor River Phoenix dies

River Phoenix, one of the most versatile and prominent of contemporary, young actors, collapsed outside a nightclub early Sunday and died. He was 23.

He had approximately a monthof filming left to go on “Dark Blood” at the time of his death; upon completing that film, he was scheduled to play the reporter in “Interview With a Vampire.”

During his short, prolific career he worked for some of the industry’s leading filmmakers and established a professional reputation well beyond his years.

His credits included “Stand By Me,””The Mosquito Coast,””My Own Private Idaho ,””Sneakers,””Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” and “Running on Empty.” He was nominated as best supporting actor in 1989 for the last named film.

Sheriff’s Deputy Diane Hecht said Phoenix was leaving the Viper Room in West Hollywood at about 1 a.m. when he fell to the ground. Friends reported that Phoenix was “acting strange.” Paramedics rushed him to Cedars Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 1:51 a.m.

“At this time, the cause of death is under investigation. The exact cause will be determined at autopsy by the coroner,” Hecht said.

The autopsy will probably be performed today, she said. Sheriff’s detectives are handling the case, as a matter of routine, but “it’s not a homicide investigation at this time,” Hecht said.

Phoenix had begun filming “Dark Blood” with Judy Davis and Jonathan Pryce late last month in Utah. A production source said there was about another month of shooting left. It’s unknown whether New Line and U.K.-based Scala Prods. can complete the film.

Recent examples of actors who have died during production include Natalie Wood in “Brainstorm” and, earlier this year, the set-death of Brandon Lee, who was making “The Crow.” With input from bank financiers and completion bond companies, both films were resumed.

Born in Madras, Ore., on Aug. 24, 1970, Phoenix was the eldest of five children — all of whom have entered the entertainment industry. At the age of two, his parents, John and Arlynn, became missionaries for the religious sect the Children of God and relocated to South America.

For six years, the family travelled throughout the continent. However, the family eventually left the sect and relocated to Florida, where they adopted the name Phoenix — a symbol of rebirth.

From an early age, River demonstrated musical talent and performed in amateur stage productions. After winning several Florida talent contests, he was invited to audition at Paramount in Los Angeles. When the family moved to Hollywood in the early 1980s, he initially became a regular on the television series “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” and performed in commercials.

Crediting his parents with imbuing him with strong moral convictions, Phoenix stopped doing ad work because he said he could not ethically support a product he did not personally use. He was also active in environmental and animal rights issues.

The actor and his family moved back to Florida in 1989. He said the family environment and leaving Hollywood’s “bad influences and superficial values” was important to him.

Phoenix made his film debut in “Explorers” in 1985. The following year, he emerged memorably from the pack of “Stand by Me.”

Registering a depth of emotion rare among his peers, Phoenix graduated from youthful roles and was just beginning to come into his own as a young man. He made a stunning impact in Gus Van Sant’s 1991 “My Own Private Idaho,” and other films include “Silent Tongue,””I Love You to Death” and “Dogfight.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

More Film

  • 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Weaves Inclusive

    The Secret Power of 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Is Inclusion

    In a year that gave us films like “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians,” this weekend’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” delivers one more home run for underrepresented groups in media in 2018. An animated film that takes advantage of Sony’s piece of the Marvel pie, “Spider-Verse” not only puts a mixed-race, middle-class teenager in the [...]

  • Jeff BridgesJeff Bridges, who stars in

    Jeff Bridges to Receive Cecil B. DeMille Award at 2019 Golden Globes

    The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has announced that Jeff Bridges will receive the Cecil B. DeMille award at the 76th Golden Globes on Jan. 6, 2019. Bridges has starred in films like “The Big Lebowski,” “Crazy Heart,” “True Grit,” and “The Fabulous Baker Boys.” “The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is delighted to bestow the 2019 [...]

  • Charlotte Rampling Euphoria

    Berlin Film Festival: Charlotte Rampling to Receive Honorary Golden Bear

    Oscar-nominated actress Charlotte Rampling, whose career has spanned more than 100 film and television roles, will be honored with a special Golden Bear at the upcoming Berlin Film Festival. The fest will also pay homage to Rampling by screening a selection of her work, including Sidney Lumet’s “The Verdict” (1982), Francois Ozon’s “Swimming Pool” (2003) [...]

  • The Sisters Brothers

    France's Lumieres Awards Unveil Nominations

    Jacques Audiard’s “The Sisters Brothers” has been nominated for best film and director at the 24th Lumieres Awards, France’s equivalent of the Golden Globes. The Western starring Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly and Jake Gyllenhaal world-premiered at Venice Film Festival, where it earned Audiard a best director award. Produced by Paris-based company Why Not, “The [...]

  • CAA to Represent Peter Chan's We

    CAA to Represent Peter Chan's We Pictures

    Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has signed with We Pictures, the production and distribution company founded by Hong Kong-born director and producer Peter Chan Ho-sun. It aims to boost the company’s footprint both in China and abroad. Within China, CAA China will help We Pictures to develop new business partnerships and find new sources of investment [...]

  • Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley to Receive

    'Carol' Producers Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley to Be Honored by BAFTA

    Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley, the producers of such films as “Carol,” “Their Finest” and the recent “Colette” starring Keira Knightley, will receive the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award at the BAFTA Film Awards. The prolific pair run Number 9 Films and have a long list of credits. They will pick up their accolade at [...]

  • BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

    Korea Box Office: 'Rhapsody' Reclaims Top Spot, Beats ‘Spider-Verse’

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” reclaimed top place at the South Korean box office, overtaking “Default,” after spending two weekends in second place. The Fox release earned $4.38 million from 554,000 admissions for a total of $61.0 million from 7.94 million admissions. In its seventh weekend of release “Rhapsody” accounted for 27% of the weekend box office. CJ [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content