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Rob Reiner began his career as a feature-film actor before becoming well-known for his role as Mike Stivic, Archie Bunker's liberal son-in-law in the 1970's TV show All in the Family. He would then turn his hand to directing where he would find much success with comedies such as The Sure Thing. It was in his movie Stand By Me that, when looking to cast the part of Chris Chambers, he would give River his big break.
"River has all the strength the character of Chris Chambers has," he said at the time. "It's clear he's been loved by his parents, who are people who have been able to maintain what was good and pure about the sixties - morality without the garbage."
Of his young star's acting skills, Reiner remarked, "He didn't have a lot of technique - you just saw this kind of raw naturalism. You just turned the camera on, and he would tell the truth."