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10+ Random Facts About River Phoenix Fans Didn't Know

It has been nearly 27 years since the tragic, untimely passing of Stand By Me, Running On Empty, and My Own Private Idaho star, River Phoenix passed away of a drug overdose outside of Johnny Depp's Los Angeles nightclub, The Viper Room.

But he has left behind quite the legacy! Here are some random facts about River that fans probably didn't know.

1. He was a vegan.

Like his brother, Joaquin, River was an animal rights advocate, member of PETA, and environmentalist.

So, naturally, he was personally against the use of all animal products, and always strived to protect the world.

2. He once bought 800 acres of rainforest on the border of Costa Rica and Panama.

Often referred to as the "vegan James Dean," River was always on a mission to protect animals and the environment.

His most notable contribution was when he purchased 800 acres of rainforest in Costa Rica, home to several endangered species.

"I want to buy the last 'first growth forest' and turn it into a national park," he said at the time.

"It’s a human tragedy of immense proportions. Many native Indians in that region are losing their homes daily, and it’s going to affect both you and me."

"Because that’s where most of the world’s oxygen comes from."

"The Amazon rain forests are the world’s lungs and without them we will not be able to breathe. It’s a very scary thought and it’s not too far off," he added.

3. After his accidental overdose in 1993, the land he had bought in Costa Rica was sold to a conservancy.

Those funds were eventually used to open up the River Phoenix Center for Peace-building in Gainesville, Florida.

Glad to see that land and money went to a good cause.

4. Joaquin Phoenix had to ensure the press that River was not abused as a child.

Before becoming a huge Hollywood star, River and his family belonged to a religious cult called Children of God.

His family eventually parted ways from the community, but River once revealed in an interview that he was abused. But Joaquin Phoenix said he was joking.

5. He taught himself how to play guitar as a kid.

Acting wasn't the only form of art that River was attracted to. He was also a musician!

When he was five years old, he began teaching himself how to play the guitar. When he was a teenager, he would regularly busk on the streets of LA alongside his sister, Rain.

6. He was rumored to be bisexual, or at the very least, bi-curious.

After rumors surfaced that River had been sexually experimenting with women and men, Mike Parker was quoted in My Own Private Idaho saying:

“I think maybe he had feelings that way. Everybody has a level of curiosity. River struck me as real curious. Maybe not because he was gay but because he wanted to understand.”

7. His parents always treated him and his siblings equally and with respect.

In a 1988 interview, River mentioned that his parents were always reasonable people, rather than disciplinarians.

"Sometimes, if not all the time, my parents [would] deal with all the kids on an equal level and it's not that 'I'm the parent you're the kid, listen to this," there's reasoning involved and we communicate our feelings," he said.

"We'll negotiate and work it out," he went on.

"And you know, there comes a time when parents have to put their fist down and say 'This is what we have to do. This is better for all.'"

8. He was once in a motorcycle accident.

In ain interview with E! in 1988, River revealed that he used to race on his motorcycle in a dirt field near his home.

One of the times ended in a bit of a spill that caused one of his films to postpone filming until he had fully recovered.

9. He learned piano for the film, *Running On Empty*.

In a 1988 interview, River revealed that prior to filming Running On Empty he had a very basic understanding of piano, and the creators of the film actually hired a piano teacher to show him the ropes.

10. He was 12 years old when he landed his first acting gig, alongside his younger brother, Joaquin.

The two brothers starred in a 1982 television series called Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.

River starred in all 22 episodes of the show.

11. His brother, Joaquin, named his son after him.

Earlier this week, Joaquin Phoenix and his wife, Rooney Mara, welcomed their first child and named him River, to honor his late brother.

I'm sure River would have loved this!