Released in 1991 and directed by Gus Van Sant, My Own Private Idaho is a film about two male street hustlers going on a journey of self-discovery that takes them to Idaho and Italy. The film won a variety of awards, including Best Actor for River Phoenix at the National Society of Film Critics Awards. Shot in Oregon, Rome, and Washington State, the film features actors River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves.
Born in Oregon, River Phoenix was an actor, musician, and political activist who tragically passed away at a young age. Describing his parents as “hippie-ish,” Phoenix and his siblings lived much of their early lives in poverty, as their mother and father had joined the Children of God religious movement. Their father had become “Archbishop of Venezuela and the Caribbean,” but the family was offered no financial support of any kind. As a result, River Phoenix would often play music on the street, begging for money from passers-by.