Joaquin Phoenix and family deny involvement in the completion of River Phoenix's last film


Image Credit: Warner Bros./Getty Images

Reports surfaced yesterday that River Phoenix’s last unfinished film, Dark Blood, was to be completed after 18 years. The late actor was still in the midst of shooting the movie — a thriller about a couple in a desert, co-starring Judy Davis — with director George Sluizer (best known for 1988’s Spoorloos/The Vanishing) when he passed away in 1993 at the age of 23. Sluizer reportedly said he was still in touch with the Phoenix family, and that he planned to ask River’s brother, actor Joaquin Phoenix, to provide the voiceover for River’s character.

This was apparently news to Joaquin Phoenix and family, as the actor’s rep has released the following statement to EW: “Despite George Sluizer’s claim that he has been communicating with River Phoenix’s family in regard to releasing River’s last film, Joaquin Phoenix and his family have not been in communication with the director nor will they participate in any way.”

Sluizer couldn’t be reached for comment.

Read more:
Today marks what would have been River Pheonix’s 41st birthday: A sad reminder of a lost talent

Comments (36 total) Add your comment
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  • Susie

    As I just got done watching Stand By Me, I am completely revolted by this story. I really truly hope River’s family have nothing to do with finishing this “film”.

    • Diggity

      Why? Obviously river wanted the film to be seen.

      • Anais

        Obviously River didn’t anticipate he would die before it was finished!

    • Death

      He’s with me now.

      • punch drunk fool


    • Lin

      Stand By Me is an excellent movie about growing up…how on earth can you be revolted by it?!

  • PDDB


  • Gregoire

    They should finish it with the voice of Spongebob Squarepants, just to throw people off.

  • auntiecarol69

    Well so much for George Sluizer’s involvement with the Phoenix family. My intuition tells me this is not the end of the he said, they said story. I don’t posses any inside info. However its either the director admitting he lied or insisting the family told the untruth.Its who do you believe. I want proof.

  • SusanPejouhy

    Nothing like exploiting traqgedy to make a buck, R.I.P. River and I know your family has more class than that!

  • tybee

    well considering how much he supposedly hated his costar, I’m not so sure his family should support this movie either. Some believe that the added stress from his issues with her were part of the reason he took those drugs that night. Don’t take that as a fact though. It is just from what I have read and seen,

  • Film_Shark

    River Phoenix was twice as talented as his brother, Joaquin. I want to see his last film. Why wouldn’t River want this film to be seen? It makes no sense.

    • punch drunk fool

      Dude I think joaquin is awesome… PTA has him in his next movie that should be f*cking awesome

    • J.

      That whole family is very talented, Film Shark. There’s just something special about every one of them and they can’t hide it onscreen. Their individual depth just shines through.

      I want to see his last film, too — very much. I also think he’d be perfectly fine with it being completed and shown. But then, I’m not River’s family. I’m not one who would need to carry all of this “close to home”. I’m not one who would risk having a personal crisis from agreeing to it. I can’t “know” things from their point of view, but I can imagine them. I imagine they want his already completed filmography to function as the whole of his film legacy. And I imagine that this, particular film, is representative of a very bad time in all of their lives.

  • Country Sunshine

    I cannot stand Joaquin. I’m glad he won’t be involved, he got famous because of River, I don’t think he should be riding his coattails anymore. The way he acts in public like he’s still in such grief, never speaking of River, worked for maybe the first 10 years. If you loved someone that much wouldn’t you want to at least mention them occasionally (rather than it be a no touch subject like river never existed) and wouldn’t you be proud someone like and want to keep their memory alive? His sisters aren’t like that. I’m seriously beginning to think Joaquin wishes the public and industry would just forget him so all the spotlight would be his. So sad.

    I do hope this movie gets a large release, it would be incredible to have one last chance to get to see River’s amazing talent and presence on the big screen one more time

    • J.

      “Country Sunshine”, while I agree that River’s last work deserves to be seen, I don’t think his family should carry any responsibility or scorn if it isn’t. They have their reasons for not doing this and some of them may be first-hand knowledge of how River made buisness and image decisions, what professional choices he was pleased with and those he’d regretted. Whether we agree with their decisions regarding River’s legacy, or not, I don’t believe the Phoenix family is flippant about any of them and they clearly have the right to make demands. That said, it will ultimately be up to Sluizer to release this film — even without their participation — if he feels he should. Honoring River’s charities, with some (if not all) of the profit, would be most appropriate.

      As far as Joaquin’s treatment of River’s memory and the circumstances surrounding his death, goes, does anyone ever really get over these things — deep trauma, the death of a sibling you were very close to? As humans, we learn to manage and carry on…but I don’t think these are the kinds of experiences that just fade away when we want them to. And the public and mass media of the time, lacked a sense of discretion and compassion on such a magnitude, that it’s no wonder the family would like to let things be.

      River was the rarest of talents. But noone, in particular, deserves to be blamed if this film isn’t completed; all parties involved have their reasons for considering or rejecting this and I’m sure whatever decisions they’ve come to or will come to, were sincerely made.

    • halfmountain

      My brother died 38 years ago, & I still don’t talk to people about him or bring him up–my grief is very personal & very private. The few people I have talked about him to are people who were very, very close to me. My grief & my relationship with my brother belong to me, they are not for public consumption. I would imagine Joaquin feels the same way. Just because his sisters do not does not invalidate Joaquin’s feelings & behavior–EVERYONE grieves in their OWN way.

      And if you watched any of his films, you would see he is an actor of immense talent–in no way is he riding River’s coattails.

  • Sequoia

    I would love to see the last movie my dear friend River Phoenix made. Who wouldn’t want to see River one more time ??? I don’t understand why Leaf aka Joaquin would not want to see River’s last movie released ??? Why not ??? Money ? Royalties ? Hatred towards the co-star ? “Please stop the blaming” It doesn’t make any sense. Of course River would want the world to see his last piece of work, and his family should think of River first and what River would want, and what his friends and fans want. Yes, River was twice as talented as Leaf, but Leaf is twice as talented as any other actor alive today, so that is why this movie NEEDS to be viewed by all the world to see. There are many stars, but River was a SUPER STAR ! One more thing, Leaf did not get famous because of River, they both got famous because of the hard work of their mother and father, and through Leaf aka Joaquin’s own hard work. Finally, I will say that I noticed some strange behavior from those close to River after his death such as tearing down the memorial left by River’s fan’s outside the Viper Room. People behave strange after a person’s death. Let us hope that River’s family will let the world see River’s last film before we are all dead, I don’t believe that River’s family would prevent this movie from being released. I don’t believe half the stuff I read out there. Hopefully we will all get to see River one last time !

    • Daevei

      Ira,While I can understand where you’re cmiong from in terms of YOUR involvement with the unfinished film, as well as River’s family, I would like to speak to you from the perspective of an unattached or uninvolved fan of the late, great, River Phoenix. There’s no way that anyone who grew up in the 80s can deny that River was an amazing talent on a multitude of levels. Aside from folks whom were brought up during the glorious years that were the 80s I think that the majority of folks simply have no idea of how remarkable an actor and true talent River actually was. Being able to be introduced to him via a new movie will not only rekindle his namesake, but it will also introduce a whole new youthful audience to someone whom had so much to offer and had yet to even scratch the surface as to what he could have ultimately done. Your personal feelings aside, and in spite of the relationships that may have previously been frayed during the production of the last film, I believe that the good of releasing this title some 18 years after the fact would have a far more positive impact than any negative connotations that might arise. That, of course, stems from the opinion of a fan whom has no affiliation whatsoever with any of the parties involved, other than being a fan of the person all of this hoopla is about in the first place: River Phoenix. I do hope that the Phoenix family reconsiders their stance on the matter, if indeed they are trying to distance themselves from any possibility of supporting the release of this film, because again, the fans deserve to see the true final piece of River’s body of work. River, himself, thought enough of the project to sign on board for the role, and from all accounts was a true professional on-set, so I believe he would want the film completed. It would also be a really wonderful collaboration between two brothers that happened in an extraordinary way. Any way, you offered up your two cents on the matter, and I can appreciate and respect that I wonder how you feel about mine. God bless.

  • Trisha

    Grief is a very private, personal individual thing. Don’t knock or judge Joaquin for not wanting to speak about his brother’s death. You learn to live with it but you never really get “over” it. If you haven’t had a family member die right in front of you, you can never fully understand the trauma of it. It is a very personal private moment and not something to be shared just because people want to know. Do not judge! Where is your respect…

  • auntiecarol69

    Yes I am on the pretty much the same wavelength who believe that just because Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t publicly talk of his grief doesn’t by prove he doesn’t feel it. Grief can be a very private matter. Perhaps he doesn’t want to be only as the grieving brother. None of us, as far as I call tell, what his inner most thoughts are. I believe River was a talented actor and so is Joaquin. The Phoenix family is in their right in how they feel concerning this film project.

  • anonymous

    My friend worked with George Sluizer on a film in America. He was removed from the set by security. The crew applauded when they were notified of his departure. My friend told me Sluizer is simply the most vile, self-serving, loathsome creature who ever slithered his way onto a film set. He is manipulative, cruel and a pathological liar. Sluizer’s sleazy claim of the Phoenix family’s involvement in his unfinished picture is more proof of his deviancy, self-promotion and greed.

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