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"The night River died is a nightmare that will never end."- Samantha Mathis
River's third and final relationship would be with actress Samantha Mathis, a relationship which began on the set of The Thing Called Love.
"Samantha agreed to do the movie because River was in it," remembered director Peter Bogdanovich. "She'd met him a couple of times but she didn't know him. He was crazy about her right away. He was anxious to have a lot of kissing scenes. He was saying, 'In the lovemaking scene, can we really do it? Can you just put us in there and close the door and let us go?' He was only half-kidding."
At the memorial for River, held at Paramount Studios, it would be Samantha Mathis who would stand up and attempt to answer director John Boorman's question, "Is there anybody here who can tell us why River took all those drugs?"
"River was so sensitive," she said. "He had so much compassion for everyone and everything that he had a weight on his heart. He was obsessive. When he wanted to eat artichokes he would eat ten at a time. He did everything to that degree."
For the 1995 movie How To Make An American Quilt, Samantha Mathis was reunited with her The Thing Called Love co-star, and appeared along with River's co-stars from Surviving and Silent Tongue, Ellen Burstyn and Dermot Mulroney.