In his forthcoming book “Running with Monsters,” former Thelonious Monster frontman and “Celebrity Rehab” therapist Bob Forrest writes about his friend Phoenix’s downward spiral and sudden death.At the time, 23-year-old Phoenix was one of the most famous young movie stars in the world, a respected actor with a pristine public image: a hippie vegan pacifist, beloved by all who knew and worked with him. Phoenix was a frustrated rock star and, in the days leading up to his death, he’d holed up with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ guitarist John Frusciante and embarked on a massive drug binge. This Halloween marks the 20th anniversary of River Phoenix’s shocking overdose at Johnny Depp’s LA nightclub.Now one of the last people to see Phoenix alive that night recounts what happened.“I think I’m OD’ing.” Also read: Mike Starr, ‘Celebrity Rehab’ Alum and Alice in Chains Bassist, Dies at 44 Forrest was doubtful that Phoenix was overdosing — “Usually you just OD and that’s it,” Forrest observes in the book — but offered to get Phoenix home. Also read: Tom Sizemore Was Once So High, He Didn’t Know There Were Cameras on ‘Celebrity Rehab’ “He was alive, because his arms and legs shook like he was having an epileptic fit,” Forrest recalls in the book.Forrest admits in the book that his concern for Phoenix’s well-being at the time was tempered by his own sense of self-preservation.Also read: Hollywood’s Notable Deaths of 2013 In the book, Forrest recalls being at Johnny Depp‘s nightclub The Viper Room, one of Forrest’s haunts and the scene of Phoenix’s collapse.
A movie star, a singer and an activist, he had recently completed movies and had new projects in the works.
As he looked at me sheepishly, he said, "They have no idea it's me." Then it dawned on me the boy they were screaming for (River! I spoke with director Peter Bogdanovich about the making of his film and those last horrible days after Phoenix died.
Nicki Richesin: In 1993, you directed an incredibly charming film with River Phoenix and then relatively unknown stars Sandra Bullock and Dermot Mulroney.
You cast River Phoenix as a wayward kid- a kind of bad-boy-trying-to-turn-good in James Wright.
What originally drew you to River as the lead and how did you find working with him on your film?