HomeCelebrityHow Did River Phoenix's Death Impact Keanu Reeves?

    How Did River Phoenix’s Death Impact Keanu Reeves?

    Hollywood is a farce land, where everything is a mirage, including people. It is not easy to maintain your name, stardom, and equations in the industry. But, very few cut through this toxic environment, forging life-long friendships. Keanu Reeves was fortunate to have a colleague and friend in River Phoenix.

    When Keanu Reeves started in the industry, Joaquin Phoenix’s brother, River Phoenix, also starred in 1985’s ‘Explorers.’ Before becoming the star he is today, Reeves debuted with the short film titled ‘One Step Away.’ Phoenix and Reeves met for the first time in 1989 on the sets of ‘Parenthood,’ which starred Joaquin Phoenix. But, their friendship bloomed on the sets of the 1991 film ‘My Private Idaho.’ However, the friendship couldn’t last longer as River died tragically in 1993 after a drug overdose.

    Related: Keanu Reeves Early Life Tragedies and Relationships.

    Keanu Reeves Could Not Hide His Deep Grief For His Friend River Phoenix

    Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix starred in 'My Private Idaho'
    Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix starred in ‘My Private Idaho’

    One of the most tragic lives in Hollywood is that of Keanu Reeves. He and his late girlfriend, Jennifer Syme gave birth to a stillborn child. Due to this, the two decided to part ways. After two years, Syme died tragically in a car accident. His sister, Kim, was also diagnosed with cancer. The ‘John Wick’ actor’s father abandoned his family when he was 13 years old.

    After losing a partner and parent, Keanu Reeves nurtured a friendship that he hoped would last a lifetime with River Phoenix. However, he lost his best friend due to an overdose in 1993 after mere two years of their friendship. Phoenix almost said no to starring in ‘My Private Idaho.’ But, Keanu’s persistent effort to drive 1,300 from Canada to Florida to convince the actor. Phoenix accepted the offer only if Keanu was doing the film.

    Unfortunately, it was the last collaboration between Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix. On October 31, 1993, the actor died outside Johnny Depp’s ‘The Viper Room’ nightclub in Hollywood after a drug overdose. It is believed that he was two months sober after a heavy bout of substance intoxication. He was filming ‘Dark Blood,’ which was released in 2012.

    When River Phoenix died, Keanu was shooting for ‘Speed’ starring Sandra Bullock. In an interview, Sandra recalled how Keanu was unable to hide the deep grief when Phoenix passed away. She said, “I watched how Keanu grieved. And oh, did he grieve for his friend. He’s very private, but he couldn’t hide that. And just to see that a man like that was able to grieve. And I remember thinking, God, if that’s the tip of the iceberg of his depth, and his level of love and care for a friend—that just draws you in.”

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    The Actor Cannot Talk About Phoenix In The Past Tense

    The 'John Wick' actor fondly remembers River Phoenix
    The ‘John Wick’ actor fondly remembers River Phoenix

    Even after two decades after River Phoenix’s death, Keanu Reeves still remembers his friend in his memory and cannot talk about him in the past tense. During an interview with Esquire in 2021, Keanu discussed his co-star and dear friend.

    He said, “I hate speaking about him in the past. So I almost always gotta keep it present. He was a really special person, so original, unique, smart, talented, fiercely creative. Thoughtful. Brave. And funny, dark. And light. It was great to have known him. To—yeah. Inspirational. Miss him.”

    During the promotion of ‘John Wick: Chapter 4,’ Keanu Reeves fondly remembered his friend through an anecdote. When a user on Reddit, during the Reddit AMA, asked him about a fun experience working with a co-star, he shared a story about River. He hesitated to tell the story, but Reeves went on narrating it.

    Keanu Reeves said, “I had a scene with River Phoenix, and he was sitting on the back of a motorcycle that I was driving while we were filming. It wasn’t extracurricular, but we went off the beaten path a bit and came back and no helmets. Just two friends playing. It was a really good day.”

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    Nishant Bhise
    Nishant Bhise
    Nishant Bhise is a Sub-Editor at FirstCuriosity. He has more than 2 years of experience in Entertainment content writing with the organization. Besides being a journalist and humanist, he loves cinema and intersectionality, basically everything that screams love, hope, and of course, Lady Gaga. Nishant loves and breathes popular culture, music, especially hip-hop and pop, and the royal family drama. Along with that, he takes great interest in the happenings in the technology world and politics. He is an LGBTQIA+ ally. Approach him with an apple juice to discuss Modern Family, Pose, and Schitt’s Creek.

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