Joaquin Phoenix said his late brother River told him: ‘You’re going to be a more successful actor than I am’

  • Joaquin Phoenix said his late brother River once told him, “You’re going to be a more successful actor than I am.”
  • Phoenix and his family gave a rare interview about River with Anderson Cooper in a “60 Minutes” special where they discussed the profound impact his death had on them. 
  • The 45-year-old Oscar nominee said his brother “awakened something” in him after he one day excitedly came home and told him to watch Martin Scorcese’s “Raging Bull.”
  • The actor also said that 26 years after River’s tragic death he still feels a connection to his brother in every movie he’s made. 
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The late River Phoenix once told his brother Joaquin: “You’re going to be a more successful actor than I am.”

Joaquin Phoenix spoke candidly in a special “60 Minutes” episode that aired Sunday night about the profound influence River had on his personal and career development. 

Anderson Cooper said during his time chatting with Joaquin, “one of the biggest things he learnt” was how much of an influence River was on the 45-year-old actor. 

“River Phoenix comes back after shooting some film and sits him down like, ‘You’re going to be a more successful actor than I am, you’re going to be better known than I am,'” Cooper said. 

Joaquin goes on to explain in the episode that River encouraged his acting career and “awakened something” in him.

He noted that when he was a teenager, River excitedly came home and told Joaquin to watch Martin Scorcese’s movie “Raging Bull” starring Robert De Niro.

“And through my brother and his understanding and appreciation of that kind of acting then it just awakened something in me and I suddenly could see it through his eyes,” Joaquin said.

River, most famously known for his role in “Stand By Me,” tragically overdosed at just 23 years old in 1993 at Hollywood nightclub The Viper Room during a night out with Joaquin and his sisters. 

stand by me
River Phoenix (right) during the 1983 coming of age movie “Stand By Me.”
Columbia Pictures

The usually private Joaquin seldom gives interviews about his brother, but at the Toronto International Film Festival in September last year, he also shared details about how River told him to start acting again. 

“He didn’t ask me, he told me. And I am indebted to him for that because acting has given me such an incredible life,” he said.

Joaquin also said during the “60 Minutes” interview that River’s influence is ever-present even 26 years after his death.

“I feel like in virtually every movie that I made, there was a connection to River in some way,” Joaquin said.

“And I think that we’ve all felt his presence and guidance in our lives in numerous ways.”

Joaquin was recently awarded a Golden Globe for his standout performance in 2019’s box office smash hit “Joker,” and now is in the running for an Oscar.

joker movie
It was announced on Monday that Phoenix was nominated for Best Actor Oscar.
Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros

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Joaquin Phoenix credits his brother River for his acting career in an emotional speech: ‘I am indebted to him’

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