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River Phoenix, who plays the narcoleptic street hustler, Mike, was born in Madras, Oregon, a rural community not far from the Portland locations where "My Own Private Idaho" was filmed. He spent his early childhood travelling the northwest with his parents, who worked as itinerant fruit pickers. They eventually took the family as far as South America to work, before moving to California.
By the time he reached age ten, the Phoenix family was living in Los Angeles, where River and his sister Rain did audience warn-up for the television show, "Real Kids." He was soon appearing in variety shows, and by the time he was twelve he had appeared in twenty-two episodes of "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers." Other early television credits include the telefilm "Surviving," a guest-starring appearance on the series "Family Ties" and an ABC After School Special, "Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia."
Joe Dante's "Explorers" (1985) marked Phoenix's feature film debut, but the movie that really launched his career was Rob Reiner's "Stand By Me" (1986), in which he played a sensitive kid from the wrong side of the tracks who wants desperately to outgrow his family's bad reputation. He followed that success with another praised performance as Harrison Ford's older son in Peter Weir's "The Mosquito Coast" (1986).
In 1988, at age seventeen, Phoenix was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the son of radical fugitives Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti in Sidney Lumet's "Running On Empty." That same year he starred in "A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon," written and directed by William Richert (who plays "My Own Private Idaho's" Falstaff-like Bob Pigeon).
He played the young Indiana Jones in Steven Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" and was featured in the all-star cast of Lawrence Kasdan's "I Love You to Death" along with "Idaho" co-star, Keanu Reeves. He will soon be seen in Nancy Savoca's "Dogfight."
An accomplished guitarist, who often jammed with bassist Reeves after a day's shooting, Phoenix plays in the band Aleka's Attic with his sister, Rain. They are featured on the recently released compilation album "Tame Yourself" along with such other musicians as k.d. lang, the B-52's, Indigo Girls and Michael Stipe of R.E.M.
Keanu Reeves plays the Prince Hal-inspired Scott, a young man who trades in the good life as the mayor's son for street life as a hustler. Raised in Toronto, Reeves performed in various local theater and television productions before moving to Los Angeles in 1986. He has amassed an impressive list of credits since, everything from the troubled teenaged wrestling with senseless murder in Tim Hunter's "River's Edge" (1987) to the innocent Danceny in Stephen Frears' "Dangerous Liaisons" (1988).
After his acclaimed work in "River's Edge," Reeves turned in a vastly different performance as one of the two "valley dudes" in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure." He has gone on to star in Marisa Silver's "Permanent Record," and with Amy Madigan and Fred Ward in "The Prince of Pennsylvania."
In "Dangerous Liaisons," Reeves was part of an all-star line-up which included Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer. He followed that performance with roles in two other films with prestigious ensemble casts: Ron Howard's "Parenthood" and Lawrence Kasdan's "I Love You to Death," which also featured Kevin Kline, Tracey Ullman, William Hurt and "Idaho" co-star River Phoenix. More recently, he starred opposite Barbara Hershey and Peter Falk in Jon Amiel's "Tune In Tomorrow..."
Reeves' has also performed in the Shakespeare & Company production of "The Tempest" in Lenox, Massachusetts.
This summer Reeves will be seen starring opposite Patrick Swayze as a former high-school football hero turned FBI agent in Kathryn Bigelow's "Point Break." He also reprises his role of Theodore Logan III in "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey."