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Heart Phoenix

Los Angeles

Iris Burton

My Own Private Idaho

Mike Waters

Gus Van Sant

Mike Parker


Five Easy Pieces

San Francisco

This Road Will Never End

Celluloid Icons

Udo Kier

See Phoenix Fiction

Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix
Page Two
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My Own Private Idaho

Five months prior to shooting the film, River moved to Portland, staying with Gus Van Sant and began investigating the undercover world of gay hustling. "For every character I play," said River, "I write a sort of character bio. For My Own Private Idaho I wrote the most. After the film had been finished, I burnt it all."

The character of Mike Waters was based on Mike Parker, a former Portland street hustler. River felt it was very important for them to get to know one another for this movie. The day they met for the first time was spent in a San Francisco park. "We talked the entire day. Even though he had never been in my particular situation I felt he understood me," Parker said.

River felt the theme of the movie was the difference between love and sex. Noticing this, Van Sant allowed him to write some lines for the movie - the campfire scene. Talking about his contribution, River said, "I wrote them all. In society there's this confusion between love and sex. People think they want love and that they'll get it through sex. Mike is very clear on the difference between love and sex because he has sex for a living. That's why his line was so important. 'I love you, and you don't have to pay me' - I'm so glad I wrote that line." See Sounds of a Phoenix.


River sunk himself so deeply into the role of Mike Waters it seems he was unable to find and return to his former self. "He looked like a street kid," said a member of the film's production crew. "I've never seen anybody so intent on living his role."

Talking of the movie, River said, "For sensational reasons people might say this is about gay street life, which is really great for the gay community because it's important to have something to identify with. But it doesn't represent the gay community. You don't hear about Five Easy Pieces as a film about a guy who works on an oil rig and he's heterosexual. It might take a few of these films before there's, like, a natural stride with the whole issue and then maybe one day it won't even be an issue, which is what I'm hoping." See Celluloid Icons: This Road Will Never End in our Phoenix TV section.

Despite her initial reservations about the script, Iris Burton receives a "thank you" credit at the end of the movie. River's mother, Arlyn Phoenix is also likewise credited.

Udo Kier at the 2000 Satin Awards in Los Angeles.

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