being Mike Waters
How do you cope with River's death?
Asked by Anonymous
Hi, ooh that’s a tough one (and I’ve been trying so hard not to write huge long posts and blather on haha - no I’ll be good), I think it’s an ongoing process — for the most part River’s memory is now one of joy and beauty for me, I tend to focus on being grateful for the time he was here on Earth with us and what I learned from him; the crushing grief from when he died and disbelief that he’s gone has shifted into furtive little stabs that often come at unexpected times now when I’m not prepared for it, but for the most part I’m at peace with it — and the other thing for me is that ever since his death I dream about him on a pretty regular basis and I know the River in my dreams so well, I always feel weird saying this ’out loud’ (so to speak) because I know it sounds weird and it’s a little embarrassing, and I’m really quite normal I promise haha (well ok I am fairly weird but so what? everybody’s weird ;-P right? ) and have a good life, so it’s like he’s still ‘around’ and lives on but in different forms - his memory safe in my heart and in his movies and in my dreams…and in nature’s wonder and the way I try to live my life and my boy, he’s gone from here but never forgotten <3
Thinking a lot about Dogfight lately - one of River’s finest movies, not to mention one of the most touching, beguiling little love stories ever put to film - some random info & quotes:
“In this scene, she [Rose] and Birdlace are talking in front of Rose’s Cafe, where Rose works with her mother, before tiptoeing upstairs to Rose’s bedroom.
According to the script, she’s already gotten drunk, thrown up, slugged Birdlace, forgiven him, and eaten a fancy dinner, his treat. For the actors, there’s such a dramatic shift in time and tone between this scene and the one they’ve just finished shooting that they decide to sit for a moment in the meticulously detailed cafe, replete with a newspaper headlining Kennedy’s trip to Dallas the next day, to reconstruct their evening.
“Okay,” Taylor tells Phoenix. “It’s 2 A.M. and we’ve had two hours of frolicking and talking.”
“Yeah. We felt good, and we kissed.”
“And now what? What about you?”
“Well….” Phoenix begins exhibiting signs of the uneasiness that his character might feel at being cut off from his buddies, left alone with a woman who demands the truth. “I guess I’m curious to see how far it’ll go.”
Some random quotes:
Nancy Savoca - Director: “I wanna send my love out to River Phoenix. When I look at this movie, my heart just breaks at the potential, because I wanted to keep seeing his work and his growth. But I feel very privileged to have worked with him when he was at this wonderful stage of doing such a daring thing.”
Holly Near - celebrated folk singer and actress, who played Rose’s mother: “If you had more young men like River than like Eddie Birdlace, you wouldn’t have a Marine Corps.”
Lars Beckerman - who played a bit part Marine: “River was an absolute pleasure to work with and to be around. He bought a banged up Volvo wagon (his weekly per diem matched my weekly salary!) and chauffeured all his fellow “Bees” and me around town when we had days off. He picked up dinner tabs and made life at the Warwick hotel amusing and unpredictable. One night he and his younger brother, then known to all of us as Leaf (now Joaquin), showed up with motorized toy speedboats that we proceeded to take down to the hotel pool and put to the test. If my memory serves, Rob Lowe was in the vicinity (jacuzzi), dating – and eventually marrying - our makeup woman at the time - but I digress..River was thoughtful and sweet, not an ounce of territorial actor neurosis, a rare quality.”
and on River’s ‘method’: “As far as I could tell, although this was not ever a topic of discussion, River was not a Method actor, meaning his acting process did not require him to actually live the experiences and emotions necessary to fill out his character [at all times]. Personally speaking, the Method is a tough row to hoe, not just for the actor but for the entire crew, not to mention his or her family. Having said that, River’s approach to creating ‘Birdlace’ appeared to be rooted at least partially in the Method. He smoked a lot and at dinner drank a lot. “
Just a note before I do a ‘Dogfight’ post: I’m frustrated because I can’t find my file with Lili’s quotes on River, which was the whole original point re the anon’s request — hopefully I’ve just misfiled it somewhere and I’ll stumble across it like I so often do, I’m slowly organizing my collection by doing this blog but it’s still inception-like (files within files within files hahaha) in places so my apologies, I’ll still do a Dogfight post with some new stuff in it <3
(and apols for misspelling Lili’s name in the previous post; just sheer carelessness on my part, hopefully all fixed now, I’m an idiot)
“I spent quite a few hours on the streets in Portland (where the movie was filmed) between the hours of 8 pm and 4 am researching the role by hanging out with male hustlers. It was really depressing. It doesn’t seem so shocking to me, really. I think if it was about female prostitution it wouldn’t be so shocking. Society accepts that. The movie turns the tables on the audience in that sense, but it all comes back to the same thing; mankind. Man is the customer, the consumer, the exploiter…it’s seedy out there, man.” - River on researching for MOPI and the dark side of Man
did riv ever have braces?
Asked by Anonymous
Hi, aww, no (I don’t know why but I find that question so sweet), but he did have a habit (a Riverism) of occasionally touching his top lip/kind of covering his mouth with his hand in interviews not unlike people I’ve known who do that subconsciously to cover their braces when they laugh, is that what made you ask by any chance? In his case I think it was an anxious fidget, a manifestation of discomfort from having a camera in his face (his teeth were fine, not perfect movie-star chicklet teeth but ok) <3
Just a quick note for the anon who asked about Lili quotes on River re Dogfight: I haven’t had a chance to have a good look through my labyrinth of Dogfight stuff/quotes yet for the one I had in mind, but last night ironically one of the first things I came across while having a quick scan was this one (from the AV club I think), likely the one you were thinking of: “But it did feel rotten, because River was very into the character, and it did end up bleeding over, as it should, because if you’re into the character, that’s what’s going to happen.” So I can see if this was the only thing you’d heard (or read, you know) from Lili about her role and acting with River then thinking that she didn’t get to know him and what he was really like, but further on just in the same interview she talks about River being such a ‘hippie’ and so unlike Birdlace, so I think the comment you referred to should probably be taken in context as just part of the process when you’re going through/experiencing those awkward emotions trying to act a role convincingly, the cast also hung out and did fun stuff together, River wasn’t ‘a marine’ off the set - not ’textbook’ method, kind of half-assed method haha (I will have a look for more quotes, I have one about River’s ‘method’ from another actor in dogfight too, I’ll try to get my shit together!) <3
do you have any quotes that Lili Taylor said about River? I always thought it was too bad she knew him when he was method acting like Eddie Birdlace, as she might not have known the "real" River. I remember her saying how difficult it was becoming the "unattractive" Rose because River was so into character, it bled into off camera sometimes and it made her feel rotten
Asked by Anonymous
Hi, oh my goodness, I think you’re the second person who’s made a similar comment here but I’m not sure where you’re getting that from, maybe some kind of misunderstanding or misleading info, I don’t know — from all the stuff I’ve seen/read over the years about Dogfight I’ve never seen anything to suggest such a thing, Lili and River seemed to have a great collaborative working relationship shooting the film — yeah River tended to stay mindful of his character while on the set, remaining physically stiff and regimented and standing like a marine (and being playfully obnoxious with cast/crew) - and from what I’ve read Lili said it was weird and at times difficult to play ‘unattractive’, but not because of River; she’s commented a couple times what a sweetie River was and how funny it was to see him playing this insensitive jackass who was the opposite of him, and how his inherent kindness and gentleness would come leaking out in weird ways in the character, how hard it was for him to keep that contained, but he managed to do it and how she admired him for it. And others in the production such as Holly Near (who played Rose’s mother) and Brendan Frasier have also commented on what a sweetie River was on the shoot (Frasier said: ”I anticipated River having a lot of hostility. I think I wanted him to be standoffish and cold - but he was really gentle and sweet. And, that absolutely floored me.”), not to mention director Savoca, who’s said several times how wonderful it was to work with River and fun with him playing so much against type, how supportive he was. I do have a couple quotes from Lili about River - I don’t have access to my external hard drive at the moment but I’ll have a look when I get home; again, I’m not sure where you’re getting that Lili had problems with River, I’ve never heard anything to suggest this, but just in general be careful what you read/believe relating to River out there, there’s a lot of nonsense and misinformation, sometimes it does my head in. Anyway hopefully I can post a quote later <3