Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara welcome a baby boy named River — after actor's late brother

Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·3 mins read

Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix have welcomed their first child together — and the baby boy is named after the Joker actor’s late brother, River Phoenix.

Director Viktor Kosakovskiy revealed at the news Sunday at the 2020 Zurich Film Festival Sunday. He was asked about Joaquin’s involvement as an executive producer on his new documentary, Gunda.

Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara in Alexander McQueen embrace on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara, at the 2020 Oscars, have given their baby boy a sentimental name. (Photo: REUTERS/Mike Blake)

“He just got a baby by the way,” Kosakovskiy said. “A beautiful son called River.”

Yahoo Entertainment has reached out to a rep for the notoriously private couple, co-stars in Mary Magdalene and Her, who started dating in 2016 and became engaged in 2019, and we will update this story if we hear back.

The name selection is especially special because the baby’s name is a tribute to Phoenix’s brother. River was one of the biggest stars in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, appearing in Stand By Me, Running on Empty, My Own Private Idaho and The Mosquito Coast. He died in 1993 at age 23 of a drug overdose, cocaine and heroin, on the sidewalk outside of Johnny Depp’s former West Hollywood club, the Viper Room.

Joaquin — who was with his brother when he overdosed, calling 911 — doesn’t often speak of his brother’s upsetting death. However, he paid tribute to him in in Oscars acceptance speech in February. Before leaving the stage with his Oscar, a clearly emotional Joaquin said: “When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric. He said, ‘Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.’”

Leading up to his big Oscar win, Joaquin was featured on 60 Minutes in January and talked about how traumatic the media attention was surrounding his brother’s death. Joaquin, then known as Leaf, was just 19 at the time.

“We were so removed from the entertainment world,” Joaquin said, as they had an unusual childhood, growing up in a religious cult, Children of God, and traveling through Central and South America before leaving the group and settling in California. “We didn’t watch entertainment shows. We didn’t have the entertainment magazines in our house. You know, River was a really substantial actor and movie star and we didn’t really know it... During that time in which you’re most vulnerable, there are helicopters flying over, there are people that are trying to sneak onto your land. Certainly, for me, it felt like it impeded on the mourning process.”

He also said, “I feel like in virtually every movie that I made, there was a connection to River in some way. And I think that we've all felt his presence and guidance in our lives in numerous ways.”

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