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During the making of Little Nikita, Sidney Poitier would be adopted by River almost as a surrogate father. "He gave me tips about life. I was so open to his advice and suggestions. He's a wonderful person and a really bright man," remembered River.
Likewise Poitier was also impressed with River's talent and outlook on life. He said, "As an actor, River is so naturally gifted. You're not working against an actor who's relying on technique. You're working against raw talent and that's very invigorating to me. He sparkles."
Sidney Poitier and River at the American/Mexico border
in Richard Benjamin's Little Nikita.
At the memorial for River held at Paramount Studios in November 1993, Poitier, quite obviously in much distress, described River simply as "incandescent."