Reeves and River Phoenix met on the set of “Parenthood” through his ex-girlfriend Martha Plimpton, and then they worked together on “I Love You to Death.” The two quickly became best friends. In one oft-told story, Reeves took his motorcycle 1,300 miles to see Phoenix in Florida, where he showed him the script to “My Private Idaho” and convinced him to join the cast. It was a risqué movie about male prostitute street hustlers with Shakespearean themes.
In 1993, Phoenix died of a drug overdose outside a club in Los Angeles called the Viper Room. Reeves was working on “Speed” at the time. According to “Speed” co-star Sandra Bullock, who was also friends with Phoenix, production of the movie almost ground to a halt. And she saw similarities in Reeves with her late friend.
“[River] was incredibly honest — one minute I'd want to club him because he was driving me crazy, and then he'd say something that was out there… On set he'd throw himself on you and say, 'I like you so much,' and you never meet people like that. But when I met Reeves, I was like, 'Oh my God. This is exactly like River,’" Bullock said in an interview.
Phoenix’s death is likely the first time Reeves loss someone he loved. It wouldn’t be the last time.