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River Phoenix, 25 years dead, but very much alive in the imagination

River Phoenix is 25 years dead, but very much alive in the imagination of fans and colleagues. His girlfriend Samantha Mathis speaks about the boy behind the myth.

Today, 25 years ago, died of River Phoenix, to what became a cocaine overdose and heroin turned out to be. His girlfriend Samantha Mathis was there, his brother Leaf today again …

Today, 25 years ago, died of River Phoenix, to what became a cocaine overdose and heroin turned out to be. His girlfriend Samantha Mathis was there, his brother Leaf, today again known by his birth name of Joaquin and his sister Rain.

“I knew that something was wrong,” said Mathis this week at the British newspaper The Guardian, the first time that they over that evening to speak. “I have no drugs to take that evening, but the River was high in a way where I’m uncomfortable felt – I was far too blue to know what I had to do.”

They would Rain and Joaquin off to the Viper Room, the club of Johnny Depp on Sunset Boulevard, and then to the flat of Mathis. His belongings were in the trunk of her car. But he knew the band that was acting up and he wanted to stay. She agreed, against her sentence. Three quarters of an hour later, he was dead.

Different families

She had met him when they were both 19 and he a cigarette came to scrounge. Three years later they played together in The thing called love. “It sounds corny, but we clicked immediately. I think that we have something in each other recognized, although we came from very different families. We saw each other’s wounds and felt safe with each other.”

Mathis was raised by her single mother, Phoenix, in a family with five children. His parents John and Arlyn (who was Heart had a name) were a member of the Children of God. The family lived as missionaries in Venezuela, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The children sang on the street for money is begging. River later said that he was on his fourth sexually abused in the group.

Eventually left John and Arlyn the sect, and they returned to the United States. Arlyn dragged them to school, but to the film studios. They all started at a young age to acting. “I think that film’s incredible opportunities,” she said in 1987 in a tv interview. “They have so much and are so self-confident. I think they are quite normal children.”

The excesses of LA

River had the feeling that he, and not his father, was responsible for the family. “I don’t know if it’s true,” says Mathis, ” but in the years before his death he told me that he still a movie had to make so that he could reserve for his youngest sister to the university of wanted.’

John had a drinking problem and River had, therefore, initially, an aversion to drugs and alcohol. Arlyn had in Florida located, where the children could guard against the excesses of Los Angeles. “Last year we were usually there when we are not around the house or in Costa Rica,” says Mathis. “We played music, we cooked vegetarian, we played with his brothers and sisters, it is very simple and calm.”

But River was using drugs begin to experiment. According to Bob Forrest, the lead singer of Thelonious Monster, he had the days before his death, nothing else done. In his book Running with monsters he writes that River Phoenix and John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers stayed. “He has probably barely slept. Our pattern was always the same: first crack-smoking, or cocaine into a vein to inject for that electric shock of ninety seconds, than heroin syringes to calm down and a few minutes to be coherent to be able to speak again.’

River had a brother, dead to his fame, but he thought he could use to speak about things that are after him at the heart of layers, such as vegetarianism and the environment. Are bekeringsdrang also made sure that he and some friends had to help withdrawal, for he himself drugs began to take. “When he needed help, they have nothing done for him,” says Mathis. ‘On the contrary, what some regard.’

According to Mathis was River high when they arrived at the Viper Room, but he took only in the club, the heroin to him killed. When they came out of the bathroom came, she saw him fighting with another man. A bouncer pushed them along the emergency exit to the outside. River fell and began to convulse. The man with whom he had fought, could or would Mathis not say what they had taken. The emergency exit was closed. She had to walk out your front door to Rain and Joaquin. Who last called the emergency services – are desperate phone call is still online. The ambulanciers could no longer revive him.


Actors are still with him compared; it just happened Timothée Chalamet last year after his role in Call me by your name. Phoenix acted so natural that his films still fresh to the touch. But now all the actors who ever indiefilm also environmentalists and convinced vegetarians, have we forgotten that River Phoenix before as a real alternativo was looking at.

Actors from Ryan Gosling to Johnny Depp have now also a band to show that their creativity is not being saturated by acting alone. Aleka’s Attic, the band of the Phoenix, was so new that it’s still cool. Until that time, musical side projects of actors usually commercial opportunities that their manager came trotting towards them, not projects for which they own the music they wrote.

“If River was still there,” says Mathis, ” would he still be acting, directing, and making music, but also the environment, save, healthy life, and surrounding himself with like-minded souls.” That is indeed not unthinkable.

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