Last Night at the Viper Room
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Last Night at the Viper Room : River Phoenix and the Hollywood He Left Behind

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Description

"I think he was the best. Is. Was. Is the best of the young guys. I'm not just saying that now - I said that before he died. He had something I don't understand". (Brad Pitt). For a moment in the early 1990s, it felt like the future of American culture was up for grabs. Bill Clinton, just 47 years old when he moved into the White House, represented a new generation. In music, Nirvana was selling millions of copies of Nevermind, blowing out the nation's eardrums in a way not heard since 70s punk rock. In the world of movies, indie film was busting out of art house theaters and into mall multiplexes. A new generation of leading men was on the rise, many of them with boyish features and bohemian attitudes: Johnny Depp, Keanu Reeves, Brad Pitt, Christian Slater, Robert Downey Jr., Nicolas Cage, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Of all of them, perhaps the one with the brightest future was River Phoenix. Raised in Venezuela under the aegis of the cultish Children of God, 18-year-old River Phoenix took Hollywood by storm when he starred in Stand By Me, and soon won an Oscar nomination for Running on Empty. Praised by his peers as the most talented actor of his generation, River came of age in the spotlight - a teen idol on the fast-track to Hollywood royalty. Yet, on October 31, 1993, at the age of 23, River Phoenix died of a drug overdose in front of West Hollywood's storied club, the Viper Room, a tragic ending to a brilliant life, and career, the world had only just begun to grasp. Acclaimed author and journalist Gavin Edward tells the story of the night River Phoenix died and explores the world he lived in, his life, and lasting legacy.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 152.4 x 231.14 x 27.94mm | 430.91g
  • HarperCollins Publishers Inc
  • It Books
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • colour plates
  • 0062273159
  • 9780062273154
  • 53,791

Review quote

"Twenty years after his death, River Phoenix remains as enigmatic and elusive as ever. Last Night at the Viper Room tells the heart-shredding story of how this haunted actor left such a big impression in such a brief time." -- Rob Sheffield, New York Times bestselling author of Love Is a Mix Tape "What Edwards does do impeccably is reveal the life of an extraordinary young man, whose idealism and dedication to his family, despite crippling childhood conditions, set him apart from the rest of the rising star pack." -- USA Todayshow more

Back cover copy

Hollywood was built on beautiful and complicated matinee idols: James Dean and Marlon Brando are classic examples, but in the 1990s, the actor who embodied that archetype was River Phoenix. As the brightly colored 1980s wound down, a new crew of leading men began to appear on movie screens. Hailed for their acting prowess and admired for choosing meaty roles, actors such as Johnny Depp, Nicolas Cage, Keanu Reeves, and Brad Pitt were soon rocketing toward stardom while an unknown Leonardo DiCaprio prepared to make his acting debut. River Phoenix, however, stood in front of the pack. Blessed with natural talent and fueled by integrity, Phoenix was admired by his peers and adored by his fans. More than just a pinup on teenage girls' walls, Phoenix was also a fervent defender of the environment and a vocal proponent of a vegan lifestyle--well on his way to becoming a symbol of his generation. At age eighteen, he received his first Oscar nomination. But behind his beautiful public face, there was a young man who had been raised in a cult by nonconformist parents, who was burdened with supporting his family from a young age, and who eventually succumbed to addiction, escaping into a maelstrom of drink and drugs. And then he was gone. After a dozen films, including Stand by Me and My Own Private Idaho, and with a seemingly limitless future, River Phoenix died of a drug overdose. He was twenty-three years old. In Last Night at the Viper Room, bestselling author and journalist Gavin Edwards toggles between the tragic events at the Viper Room in West Hollywood on Halloween 1993 and the story of an extraordinary life. Last Night at the Viper Room is part biography, part cultural history of the 1990s, and part celebration of River Phoenix, a Hollywood icon gone too soon. Full of interviews from his fellow actors, directors, friends, and family, Last Night at the Viper Room shows the role he played in creating the place of the actor in our modern culture and the impact his work still makes today.show more

About Gavin Edwards

Gavin Edwards is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone who has written five articles for the magazine about Blink-182 for the magazine since 1999. He is the New York Times bestselling author of seven books. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife and their two sons.show more
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