Tuesday, November 20, 2012
River had that indefinable something that made his star burn brighter, hotter, faster. He was an actor, musician, activist and artist. I remember seeing him for the first time on Michael J. Fox's show Family Ties as a nerd named Eugene who crushed on Jennifer, the youngest sister. From Stand By Me to Jimmy Reardon to Mosquito Coast to Little Nikita to Running On Empty, I followed his career, lemming to his Pied Piper. My favorite performances coming in My Own Private Idaho and Dogfight.And of course who can forget him as young Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade?
He is easily dismissed as an unfortunate Hollywood misadventure, a young man who allowed himself to get taken down by drugs, but he was oh so much more. He was a vegan, an activist for PETA and tried to be a force for good. He aided many environmental organizations and purchased 800 acres of the Costa Rican rainforest so that it could be saved. It is now a wildlife refuge.
River knew that writing/ acting were about committing to a story, not worrying about whether or not someone thought it was good. It had to be good to only you. I think we writers/artists sometimes get caught up in what our potential audience will think, that we try to write for them. Ultimately, we are the only ones who matter, we are the only one who have to believe. I think that's a valuable lesson we can all learn from River and take with us whatever our projects.
Were you or are you a River Phoenix fan? Can you believe how time has passed? Do you think his final film should be released?