River Phoenix lives on through his movies. Now a newborn will carry his name into the future, according to director Victor Kossakovsky.
Phoenix’s brother, actor Joaquin Phoenix, has welcomed his first baby with actor Rooney Mara, a son named River, Kossakovsky said at the Zurich Film Festival Sunday.
River Phoenix, an actor known for his roles in “Stand By Me,” “Running on Empty” and “My Own Private Idaho,” died in Oct. 31, 1993, when he was 23 years old, after a drug overdose at the Viper Room in West Hollywood. Joaquin, then 19, was with him at the time and called 911.
“In virtually every movie that I made, there was a connection to River in some way,” Phoenix told Anderson Cooper in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired in January.
Kossakovsky is director of “Gunda,” a film produced by Phoenix that has no dialogue and focuses on a mother pig, or sow, named Gunda who lives on a farm in Norway, caring for her babies. The film, which screened at the Zurich festival Saturday and Sunday, aims to “uncover the secret world of animal feelings,” according to the festival synopsis.
Phoenix, 45, who won the Oscar for best actor in February for the 2019 movie “Joker” (which filmed in New Jersey), is an outspoken animal rights advocate and vegan. He used his Oscars acceptance speech to talk about the subject. (“We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources,” he said. “We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth, we steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. And then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in her our coffee and our cereal.”)
In the speech, Phoenix also quoted lyrics written by River Phoenix when he was 17:
“Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.”
Mara, 35, was nominated for two Oscars, for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011) and “Carol” (2015). She’s also a scion of two football dynasties. Her great-grandfathers founded the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers, and her family still owns both teams.
Mara, born Patricia Rooney Mara, grew up in Bedford, New York and first came to prominence after a role as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s onetime girlfriend in “The Social Network” (2010). She has been in a relationship with Phoenix, her co-star in the 2013 film “Her,” since 2016. They also appeared together in the films “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” and “Mary Magdalene” (Mara played Mary Magdalene and Phoenix played Jesus Christ), both released in 2018.
The couple got engaged in 2019. News that Mara was pregnant first emerged in May.
Mara’s father, Chris Mara, is the senior vice president of player personnel for the Giants. John Mara, her uncle, is the co-owner, president and CEO of the Giants, and her grandfather, Wellington Mara, co-owned the team until his death in 2005. Her great-grandfather, Tim Mara, founded the Giants, and her other great-grandfather, Art Rooney Sr., founded the Steelers. Rooney Mara’s cousin, Art Rooney II, currently owns the Steelers. Mara’s great-uncle, Dan Rooney, was the owner, chairman and president of the Steelers and former U.S. ambassador to Ireland during the Obama administration.
Mara’s sister, Kate Mara, 37, is also an accomplished actress, nominated for an Emmy for her 2013 role in “House of Cards.” She starred in “Fantastic Four” (2015) as Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman and in “Chappaquiddick” (2017) as Mary Jo Kopechne, the campaign worker from Berkeley Heights who died in a 1969 car accident when Sen. Ted Kennedy drove off a bridge after a party on Chappaquiddick Island. Kopechne worked as one of Robert F. Kennedy’s Boiler Room Girls in his 1968 run for president.
Kate Mara appeared in the TV series “Pose” in 2018. In 2019, she welcomed her first child, a daughter, with actor Jamie Bell, 34.
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Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.