"When the wind blows, I see River. When the sun shines, I see River. When I look into someone's eyes and make a connection, I see River. To have death transformed into another way to look at life is his gift to us."
Mrs Heart Phoenix (River's Mother)
"River was my first born. He introduced me to motherhood and has been the strongest influence on my life. I feel blessed to have been the woman who held him deep within my being as he grew from a tiny seed. I birthed him at home, suckled him to a chubby two year old and then held him in love and awe until his safe passage on October 31."
Mrs Heart Phoenix (River's Mother)
"River was a very brilliant, beautiful child who would do no harm to anyone. But he was rather gullible. He wanted to please everyone."
Mr John Phoenix (River's Father)
"We all feel guilt, everyone who knew River. Not a day goes by when I don’t think long and hard about River’s death and ask myself ‘why?’"
Mr John Phoenix (River's Father)
"My ex-wife and I started to break up, and she had a little six-year-old. River gave him his first bicycle for Christmas, because he thought he needed a little consolation. While the two of us were figuring out what to do with our lives, this 22-year-old, or however old, was thinking about stuff like that."
"He was always giving me advice about every aspect of my life - about girlfriends before I was married and then my marriage. He would take a fatherly attitude toward me. I think he did that with a lot of people."
"River told me that he didn't want to be forgotten, that he wanted to have his life known. He wanted me to do a documentary on his life, because he knew that I actually started in documentaries. He wanted me to make a documentary about him - You know, one day I might."
"One time, at ten-thirty in the morning, River calls me up. I asked him, 'Where are you?' He asked me, 'What are you doing?' I said, 'Well, I'm working here.' 'Can I come over, and you know, hang or something?' he said. 'Well, I'm really working, Where are you?' 'I'm at the airport.' 'Oh, what time is your flight?' 'It's at 5:45.' 'River, it's 10:30 in the morning!' I said. 'I know, but I always miss 'em."
"He was my brother and I loved him a great deal. It was just an awful, awful mistake. We fed off each other and learned a lot from each other."
"I enjoyed his company very much, and enjoyed his mind, his spirit and his soul. We bought good out in each other. He was an original thinker, he was not the status quo in anything."
"River was one of the kindest people I have ever met in my life. When I think about River, I don't think about his death. I don't get sad about it, I think about how incredibly fortunate I was to be friends with a person who looked inside me and saw things that no-one else ever saw before."
"River was a sensitive. He had so much compassion for everyone and everything that he had a weight on his heart. When he wanted to cat artichokes he would eat ten at a time. He did everything to that degree."
"If the news was on when he came over to my house, he’d make a face at the TV and then leave."
“There’s a type of person I call a vegetarian zealot, or evangelist, who puts people off because they’re preaching all the time. Then, there are people who have every bit the same degree of passion and commitment, but live that passion in a way that’s contagious and expressive in a positive sense. People around them want to be like them, want to be vegetarian, want to live a more compassionate life, want to live a more human life, want to live a more environmentally attuned life. As opposed to browbeating people or hitting them over the head, it’s a question of addressing that which is within them, the spark of awareness and caring, and helping it find expression, helping it to come forward. That’s what River did”
(During the filming of Silent Tongue) - “He bonded very, very strongly with Richard Harris. River would come and drive Richard to the set, bypassing the film’s drivers. He always wanted to make sure that Richard was fine, that Richard wasn’t lonely. I mean, he was like a mother hen, River”
River with Richard Harris during the filming of Silent Tongue
"River was the most beautiful child you've ever seen - like a little Elvis."
"I think he was a very sweet, talented, good and honourable young man. He was human and a really nice kid. He wasn't a god. I will remember him in a very positive sense, more about his quiet and deep humanity than his many talents. His death was a horrible, tragic mistake - and the world is poorer for his being gone, especially if they haven't learned any lessons from it."
Father Stephen Wood
"There's one restaurant that Martha, River, and I used to frequent a lot, The Great Greek, on Ventura Boulevard. I used to get something all the time called The Pasta Tony Corfu. We would get the hummus, the pita, and everything else. One thing that was great about River, it was a joy to watch him eat. I don't know how weird that sounds, but when you are with someone who does not eat like a pig, just eats as if they're really enjoying it.... He just knew how to pick up the pita, and get just the right amount of hummus on it, and stick it in his mouth."
"One night he ordered grape leaves. They're called 'dolmas', right? We are all just eating away. He picks one up and bites into it, and the next thing I know, he spit something in his hand! I thought he was choking. It was meat. It was meat! And, you know how he felt about that! 'There's meat in it!' he shouts. He calls the waiter over and kindly tells him, 'I didn't want the ones with meat in it. No, no! Please take it away.' And, the fact that he spit it out, I thought, 'Wow, this guy's really a vegetarian.' Usually, once you put something in your mouth, you don't spit it out, but the fact that he did was pretty neat, I thought."
"He was so special, that the truth will always outshine the fiction."
"He didn't have sterling conduct - but, he never said - "You know what, I'm hot, I'm handsome, and I'm a star, and I can do anything." He really tried to avoid that. He would much rather prefer you think of it as if it were an ordinary job. If he could fall back into anonymity and not be this person he had become, it would've been okay by him. He would've been just fine - whereas some people think, "If you strip 'em of their celebrity, they're nothing." River had plenty to offer."
"River was always doing things like saying 'I just love you,' and lunging to hug me.' I'd freeze. River didn't like that, so he'd hug me again, and I'd freeze again, and he'd yell at me."
Gus Van Sant
"What he has is some manner of natural talent. There are a lot of people who have that, but River is also very serious about his work - very workmanlike and professional, far beyond what you would expect from a fifteen year old boy. River asks a lot of questions that require answers - none of which I can really supply, but they are interesting questions."
"As an actor, River is so naturally gifted. You're not working against an actor who is relying on technique, you're working against raw talent, and that's very invigorating to me."
"I anticipated River having a lot of hostility. I think I wanted him to be standoffish and cold - but he was really gentle and sweet. And, that absolutely floored me."
"A tear ran down my cheek that somebody would compare me to River Phoenix. He's someone who's completely a genius."
"When he was being aloof, I'd impulsively try to trap him in an emotional gesture by hugging him, and he'd flip out of my arms. Ten minutes later he'd sneak up and hug me from behind. He wanted it to be his spontaneity, and more creative. He'd sidewind you, but you would consider yourself hugged."
"When I first met River, he had very long hair and he struck me - as he came out of an elevator - as an angel, some kind of supernatural being." Bobby Burowski
"I think River was like my late son. He was years ahead of his age. I think people like that are very vulnerable to - well, to other people. They are prey for the not-so-good."
"He sent a very sweet letter and a present after Larry (Sir Laurence Olivier - her husband) died. It was a tuning fork, and the message said, "Tune into life."
"He would literally sneak up behind you when you were involved in conversation with someone. He would sneak up behind you and grab you in a bear hug around your body, so that your arms were pinned down to your sides. You could not break free. He'd hug you; he'd come up next to your ear and say, 'You know, I really like you.' Then he would let go. However, if you snuck up behind him, and tried to hang an arm around his shoulder, or tried to hug him, he would wiggle out and break free."
"He was a strict vegetarian, a vegan - but it wasn’t about health, it was about not killing… . That’s a real important point. He wanted to be free; he didn’t want to be chained to anything. He wasn’t scared of anything. He had no fear."
"When I was eighteen, River Phoenix was far and away my hero. Think of all those early great performances - My Own Private Idaho. Stand by Me. I always wanted to meet him. One night, I was at this Halloween party, and he passed me. He was beyond pale - he looked white. Before I got a chance to say hello, he was gone, driving off to the Viper Room, where he fell over and died. That’s a lesson."
"His eyes made him the focus of energy in every scene, the centrifugal force so strong you didn’t even try to duel him for control. The off-center eye [lazy right eye] read as madness, and the other read pure sanity. In a close-up, from one side he was the guy next door, and from the other he was absolutely insane."
"I worked with River when he was thirteen on a TV film about teenage suicide called Surviving. His father was a very quiet man. In one scene, River wasn’t delivering. He was not concentrating. We went into about ten takes. His father took him aside. It was done in a very quiet way, but I could sense that there was a lot of “you’d better get this right” sort of attitude. It’s a very subtle form of authority. They were very anxious for him to succeed."
"When I was starting, the two guys you wanted to model yourself on were River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke."
"He raved about his brother Joaquin’s acting talent, saying Joaquin was a much better actor than he was."
"It really upsets me, and I'm basically upset at myself for being so naive and gullible as I have been in the past, as far as being intimidated by the stylists with the wardrobe, the hair-do's, the poses, the this and that and all that stuff - that isn't me. What it does is, it makes you an image. They plaster you on all these magazines and sensationalize, and they're all very nice and sweet and goody-goody, but still - It's just false as far as, you know, the image that's portrayed..... It's not me."
"You can't just wake up the next morning and be the character, it's a slow process. You have to neutralise yourself before you can become another character. I become non-opinionated, refusing to think from River's perspective, and then slowly I add characteristics and start thinking the way the character would. I play a lot of mind games with myself."
"We wanted to make it. We all wanted to be entertainers, and our parents did whatever they could to help us."
"Woody Allen was the first time I really could not figure how something could be so real. I was like "How can anything be this real, yet contrived?" That question is what makes you want to find out."
"Before I came back to America, I thought features were Kellog's commercials and cartoons. Then I saw a western and I thought that companies paid people's families money to kill them. I just believed it."
"I remember we'd roll into gas stations in our beat-up van and I'd tell the attendant - "I'm going to be an actor."
"Biggest problem was, I was terrible for commercials - I couldn't smile on cue."
"When I was old enough to realise that all meat was killed, I saw it as an irrational way of using our power, to take a weaker thing and mutilate it. It was like the way bullies would take control of younger kids in the schoolyard."
"We need an extreme movement because what is happening to animals is so extreme. Some misinformed people claim that animal rights activists are terrorists, but these people are simply ignorant of who the real terrorists are - the companies and industries that torture literally billions of animals each year."
"I would get songs sung to me, like 'Old Man River,' or kids would call me Mississippi and things like that. At the time, I wished I had a name that blended in more with my surroundings. Now though, I've really learned to love it. From fifteen, I really liked it. It felt appropriate. Before that, I don't think it quite fitted me. I had to grow into it ."
"We all have our distinct things. Leaf was the family clown - very witty, very smart. Mom had to work a lot, so Rainbow was the mother and the older sister and trendsetter. Liberty was always the most physical, like an acrobat, very nimble and strong, a really beautiful girl. And Summer was the youngest, the baby of the family, with big brown eyes and blonde hair, more American-looking."
"If I have some celebrity, I hope I can use it to make a difference. The true social reward is that I can speak my mind and share my thoughts about the enviroment and civilisation itself. There's so much shit happening with people who are exploiting their positions and creating a lot of negativity."
"There's nothing more important than the earth, the sky and the water."
"If I could have been born anything - I'd be a Native American."
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