River Phoenix conspiracy theories after Joaquin opens up about tragic death

River Phoenix was tipped to become one of Hollywood's biggest stars before he died at the age of 23 after collapsing outside Hollywood nightclub The Viper Room.

At the time of his death, 'squeaky clean' River bore the reputation of a teen idol and heartthrob thanks to roles in Stand By Me and Running on Empty.

Despite huge success, River made clear his distaste of Hollywood and the trappings of fame that came with his burgeoning career.

Sadly, that promising career would be cut short with River's tragic and sudden death in 1993.


  • Joaquin Phoenix opens up about tragic death of brother River in rare comments

  • Joaquin Phoenix's heart-warming speech to late brother River for acting career

His younger brother Joaquin would follow him into the movie business and become a huge star in his own right.

Over the years, Joaquin has preferred not to publicly discuss the events at The Viper Room, so it came as a huge surprise to fans when the notoriously private actor opened up about his brother's death in an interview with 60 Minutes .

Paying tribute to his brother, the 45-year-old Joker star candidly told Anderson Cooper that every movie he has starred in over the last 27 years felt connected to River in some way.

"I think that we've all felt his presence and guidance in our lives in numerous ways," Joaquin added.

Over the years, many fans have also claimed to be effected by River's passing and, as is the case in the deaths of many young stars, bizarre theories surrounding the late actor continue to swirl.

Among the bizarre theories is that River was either murdered or faked his own death.

The young actor had been open about his abhorrence of drugs and Hollywood culture. Yet on October 31, 1993, he collapsed from an overdose of heroin and cocaine outside the nightclub owned by Johnny Depp.

Many people questioned the events of that night with River being so opposed to drugs. It's also alleged than autopsy showed a lack of needle marks on his body.


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River's girlfriend Samantha Mathis had accompanied him to the club to drop off his little brother and sister, but on their arrival River asked if they could stay while he played with the band.

"I knew something was wrong that night, something I didn’t understand. I didn’t see anyone doing drugs but he was high in a way that made me feel uncomfortable – I was in way over my head," Samantha later told The Guardian, adding: "45 minutes later, he was dead."

Another bizarre theory was that River didn't overdose but was murdered.

Before River's death, the Phoenix family had spoken of being involved in a local cult. Some people claim that River's talk of his childhood and sexuality could have angered cult members who wanted him to stop.

Another theory is that River faked his own death to live a quiet life and be free from the trappings of fame he so despised.

His mother Arlyn once revealed to Esquire: "As River grew, he did become more and more uncomfortable being the poster boy for all good things. He often said he wished he could just be anonymous. But he never was. When he wasn’t a movie star, he was a missionary. There’s a beauty in that – the man with the cause, the leader – but there’s also a deep loneliness."

Since his death, some have claimed River was enthralled by the world of espionage and thought the only way to shed his famous identity and become a spy was if the world thought he was dead.

Some have even suggested that after 'faking his death', River resurfaced as a political activist named Mark Dice, who writes books about the Illumaniti.

Johnny Depp, who owned the Viper Rooms, has also spoken about being blamed for the young actor's death.

Depp bought the club in the early 1990s and turned it into a rock venue where acts including Guns 'N' Roses and Johnny Cash performed.

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 2018 Depp discussed how he'd been deeply effected by River's death and claims that in "supermarket rags that he’d delivered the fatal dose to Phoenix himself.

"Imagine living with that,” Depp said.

In his recent interview with 60 Minutes, Joaquin spoke of his grief in the days that followed his brother's passing.

"During that time in which you're most vulnerable, there are helicopters flying over, there are people that are trying to sneak onto your land," he described. "Certainly, for me, it felt like it impeded on the mourning process."

The interview also saw Joaquin discuss how River encouraged him to pursue acting further, detailing a story of River introducing him to the influential Martin Scorsese film Raging Bull starring Robert De Niro which "awakened something in" Joaquin.

Commenting on his brother's talents further, Joaquin explained: "You know, River was a really substantial actor and movie star and we didn't really know it."

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