Kiefer Sutherland Believes He and River Phoenix Helped Name 'Stand by Me'

Kiefer Sutherland stopped by The Talk on Thursday to talk music. The Designated Survivor actor is currently on tour promoting his debut album, Down in a Hole, but the conversation quickly turned to the music he and co-star River Phoenix played on the set of their classic 1986 film, Stand by Me.

River Phoenix in Stand By Me
River Phoenix in Stand by Me, 1986. (Photo: © Columbia/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Sutherland said that at the time, the song “Stand by Me” was the only song he knew front to back, and he taught Phoenix how to play it. Because of this, Sutherland believes the movie ended up sharing the name with the song. Stand by Me was originally called The Body, based on a short story by Stephen King. But Columbia Pictures wasn’t too fond of the name The Body, and director Rob Reiner is credited with coming up with the new name. But Reiner may not deserve all of the credit.

“We [Sutherland and Phoenix] were playing it together, and the two of us have always believed that Rob Reiner heard us and decided, ‘Oh, that’s cool. We’ll call the film Stand by Me.’ I don’t know if it’s true, but we decided to believe that anyway,” Sutherland said.

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