Anderson Cooper spoke to the award-winning actor and his family on an in-depth interview about River’s death and the effect it had on them.
The Phoenix family is widely known for not talking about the tragic passing of River Phoenix. It has been 27 years since River’s untimely passing and Joaquin and the rest of his family have now stepped forward to tell about the tragedy.
During the 60 Minutes episode last Sunday, Joaquin recounted the events and his perception of how the media covered his late brother’s tragic passing, explaining that it impeded their mourning process.
River died at the young age of 23 in 1993 due to a drug overdose at the Viper Room in West Hollywood. The Joker actor was with River at the time and was only 19 years old.
Joaquin went on to explain to Cooper that after River’s passing, they were removed from anything to do with the entertainment industry. They didn’t watch anything and they didn’t have any entertainment magazines in their home. They had the realization that River was an extraordinary actor and they just realized it at the time.
Joaquin added that the time after his brother had passed away, helicopters were passing over their roof and people attempted to sneak inside their property. This was the reason why he thought that it impeded their mourning process.
The actor and the rest of the Phoenix family went on to talk about how they felt that River was still present in their lives even after being gone for years. The actor added that the grieving process is albeit permanent and that the feeling of dread and mourning can resurface out of nowhere.
Heart, Joaquin’s mother, shares that the grieving process comes out of nowhere. She went on to add that sometimes she will be driving and out of nowhere she will be hit with it and just welcomes the feeling.
Joaquin also shared that in every film that he was part of, he felt that he had a connection with his older brother in a way. He added that he always thought that they’ve felt his presence like he was guiding them in their lives in a lot of ways.
The Joker actor also shared that when they were younger, River would prescribe movies that they would watch, one of which, the film Raging Bull, totally changed Joaquin’s viewpoint on acting.
He went on to say that after watching the film, something woke up inside of him, and he could see through the character’s eyes. “There’s a part in ‘Raging Bull’ where De Niro meets a girl in between a chain-link fence. And he shakes her pinky,” the actor said that the small detail of DeNiro’s character shaking the little girl’s pinky finger was a very beautiful moment in the film.