Joaquin Phoenix and Family Make Rare Appearance Together to Honor River at PETA Event

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
image

Liberty Phoenix, Joaquin Phoenix, Arlyn Phoenix, Summer Phoenix, Rain Phoenix, and Jeffrey Weisberg at PETA’s 35th anniversary gala on Sept. 30 (Getty Images)

River Phoenix died nearly 22 years ago, but his family — including his brother, Joaquin — is seeing to it that he is never forgotten.

The Oscar-nominated actor, together with his mother and three sisters, presented the inaugural River Phoenix Humanitarian Award at PETA’s 35th anniversary gala held at Hollywood Palladium on Wednesday. While giving the honor to filmmaker Shaun Monson, matriarch Arlyn spoke about the late star’s animal rights work, saying River “took personal responsibility for his beliefs by becoming vegan,” which “inspired not only our family but the world.”

image

The Phoenix family, again with Jeffrey Weisberg, on the red carpet (Getty Images)

Related: Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee Reunite at PETA Gala

The group — which included Phoenix sisters Rain, Liberty, and Summer, who’s married to Casey Affleck — were joined by Jeffrey Weisberg, who is the executive director of the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding, both on stage and on the red carpet.

image

(Getty Images)

Joaquin, who keeps recycling the exact same outfit on the red carpet lately (white button-down, black jeans, sneakers, and a tie), has been known to bring his mother to events, including premieres, award shows, and also regularly steps out with a sister — or two. However, we haven’t seen their entire family out together like this in recent years.

The Phoenix family has a tight bond — and not only just because they endured the loss of River, who died of a drug overdose suffered at Johnny Depp’s club The Viper Room on the Sunset Strip in 1993. The siblings had an unusual upbringing as part of the Children of God cult. The family traveled around South America with the controversial Christian group before becoming disenchanted with it and leaving, a topic Joaquin discussed last year.

image

Joaquin’s recent red carpet uniform: He’s worn the same outfit on Aug. 29, July 9, and Feb. 21 (Rex, AP Images, Splash News)

“When people bring up Children of God, there’s always something vaguely accusatory about it,” he told Playboy. “It’s guilt by association. I think it was really innocent on my parents’ part. They really believed, but I don’t think most people see it that way. I’ve always thought that was strange and unfair.”

He continued, “I think my parents thought they’d found a community that shared their ideals. Cults rarely advertise themselves as such. It’s usually someone saying, ‘We’re like-minded people. This is a community,’ but I think the moment my parents realized there was something more to it, they got out.”

During their last years in South America, the Phoenixes became vegans, which River — an early adopter of animal rights activism as far as celebrities go — spoke about after rising to fame in movies including Stand By Me, The Mosquito Coast, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He actually put his activism ahead of his film career; it was noted in a New York Times profile on him in 1989 when he skipped the National Board of Review’s annual award show, where he won for best supporting actor for Running on Empty, to appear at an “anti-fur concert.”

River was also featured in PETA’s Kids Campaign, appearing in a commercial for them, and the organization gave him a humanitarian award in 1992 — just one year before he passed away.

Knowing how important the cause was to River makes his family’s special appearance last night that much more meaningful.