River Phoenix's Final Moments Revealed in New Book: ‘I Think I'm OD'ing’

River Phoenix's Final Moments Revealed in New Book: 'I Think I'm OD'ing'

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On the eve of the 20th anniversary of his tragic death, “Celebrity Rehab” star Bob Forrest recalls the actor's collapse outside The Viper Room

Thursday marks the 20th anniversary of River Phoenix‘s death of a drug overdose — a grim day for Hollywood.

In his new memoir “Running With Monsters” (Crown Archetype, available now), “Celebrity Rehab” star Bob Forrest  — who chronicles his days as a drug addict and musician on the Hollywood scene in the book — recalls the night of Phoenix's death, writing that Phoenix felt he was suffering from an overdose in the moments before his collapse.

Also read: Hollywood's Notable Deaths of 2013

In the book, Forrest recalls being at Johnny Depp‘s nightclub The Viper Room, one of Forrest's haunts and the scene of Phoenix's collapse. Following a performance by budding musician Phoenix and Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante — a performance undone by the pair's excesses — Forrest recalls a gathering in an office of the Viper Room.

Running with Monsters Cover Image

“Somebody broke out the coke and passed it around. River was obviously wasted and was as unsteady as a boxer who had taken one too many head shots during a 15-round bout,” Forrest recalls in the book. “His complete lack of motor skills made me think he was drunk. Heroin will make users lean when they stand still, but you almost never see them stumble and fall.”

Also read: Joey Kovar of ‘Real World,’ ‘Celebrity Rehab’ Dead at 29

Forrest recalls Phoenix approaching him later, during a performance by Depp's band P, and admitting that he might be undergoing an overdose.

“They were always a fun band to watch, and tonight, they played well. It was great  fun until I felt a hand tap my shoulder and turned to see River. He was a whiter shade of pale,” Forrest writes.

“Bob, I don't feel so good,” Forrest recalls Phoenix telling him. “I think I'm OD'ing.”

Also read: Mike Starr, ‘Celebrity Rehab’ Alum and Alice in Chains Bassist, Dies at 44

Forrest was doubtful that Phoenix was overdosing — “Usually you just OD and that's it,” Forrest observes in the book — but offered to get Phoenix home. The actor declined, saying he felt better.

“I tried to reassure him. ‘I don't think it's an OD. You can stand and you can talk,'” Forrest writes in the book. “I still have guilt that I dismissed his worries so casually.”

Shortly thereafter, a commotion erupted in the club, and Forrest rushed to the door to find Phoenix's girlfriend, “American Psycho” actress Samantha Mathis, screaming as her boyfriend convulsed on the sidewalk.

Also read: Tom Sizemore Was Once So High, He Didn't Know There Were Cameras on ‘Celebrity Rehab’

“He was alive, because his arms and legs shook like he was having an epileptic fit,” Forrest recalls in the book.

Forrest admits in the book that his concern for Phoenix's well-being at the time was tempered by his own sense of self-preservation. As an addict who traveled in a circle of other drug users, Forrest writes that he was concerned that the publicity from the event could draw legal heat to himself and his peers.

“I felt awful that River had collapsed. I may have been a junkie, but I was human, and I had empathy and concern for my friend,” Forrest writes. “But I was also fearful that the rest of us could be hauled in for questioning.”

Also read: Cory Monteith's ‘Accidental’ Heroin Death Should Be Investigated (Guest Blog)

Later, Forrest and Butthole Surfers frontman Gibby Haynes — a bandmate of Depp's in P — ventured to Cedars Sinai hospital to check on Phoenix's condition.

“It was three o'clock on Halloween morning. Hospitals are spooky places to begin with, but the day and the stillness of the hour only compounded the unease,” Forrest writes.

“I saw Samantha standing alone. She was crying,” Forrest recalls in the book. “I knew just by looking at her that River was dead.”

  • pbrstreetgang

    Wow I am speechless after reading this./ So basically he let river die just so he didn't get in trouble. unbelievable !!!

  • pbrstreetgang

    Wow I am speechless after reading this/ So basically he let River die just so he didn't get in trouble. unbelievable !!!

  • usasi2

    No loss……………..

    • Gerard Kennelly

      fuck you

      • wtf1967

        seriously man. guy made bad choice. didn't save the world. only an actor. not like people depended on him for their lives (cop, teacher, sanitation worker). same level as street musician if you think logically.

        • Gerard Kennelly

          he was talented
          he made people happy
          i admire his acting
          and you say ”no loss”
          shame on you

        • Sam

          Umm, wrong! He had a HUGE purpose on this earth. He inspired people with his amazing films, plus, clearly you don't know much about him but he also was a great humanitarian, animal activist and environmentalist. So actually you could say he was helping to save the world!

  • ZodLovesMaude

    They did the same to John Belushi. Just use him and let him die. Typical worthless druggie, look out for number one.

  • Michael

    I have a tinge of guilt about this. It is a coulda/woulda/shouda moment, but it is the truth. I was planning to attend Viper Room that night. However, I had other plans. I know CPR. If I did go, I would have had the chance to revive him. I actually drove by the Viper Room that night. If only I stopped in for a moment. Been around. No one there had any medical training. I have plenty. It was sobering to discover what happened. If only….

  • Patty Palm-Biller

    this author is a total DUMBSHIT!!! I will never read his book, hope it tanks!!

  • job

    Bob Forest could have saved Rivers life by calling 911. I remember hanging out with Forest at parties back in the late 1980's in Hollyweird..Very funny and nice guy. He knew the Beastie Boys too..I'm sorry that this happened. It should have never gone this way..

  • Raine

    Perhaps it was legally different back then, but when Bon Jovi's daughter was OD'ing last year, her friend, who was also high, called for help because NY state law exempts a person from prosecution in that circumstance….

    • JewelD

      Smart. Fear is the enemy.


    One less LIBERAL SH-THEAD. Red Hot Chili Peppers–what a bunch of Deuces–FLEA—LYME DISEASE would be better.

    • mind ur own

      WTF, Glad, you're so righteous, Sheet head.

    • Burphelson AFB

      wrong thread for that. Grab some Twinkies and kleenex and get back into mom's basement.


    A few years back I was walking the Strip and found myself in front of the VIPER Club. Made sure I had a picture of myself in front pointing to sidewalk where River croaked. I had big smile on my face. Rise up from the ashes River—Rise hahhahahaha
    You're all Godless losers—–

    • Sam

      You're clearly the only loser. Maybe you should croak!

  • bonesaw69

    Ok Bob didn't Let him die,they were all idiots for doing the drugs they were doing and River paid the price ..his fault and no one elses.

    • Gerard Kennelly

      my own private idaho
      stand by me
      running on empty
      indiana jones and the last crusade
      5 amazing performances

  • Belle


  • Lazydayzclamshellbrickhouse

    John Frusante gave him the drugs that killed him and took off as well. F'in junkies…

    • ric

      Well, technically River Phoenix was obviously a junkie too. A lot of us were in the 90s. Sadly, a lot of us never made it past the 90s. I wish this guy would've called 911 though. River's death still upsets me. Tremendous, beautiful actor.

  • Dolly

    River Phoenix , was a stupid worthless drug addict. He is a million times better off dead. What a huge waste of space he was. I am glad the drugs killed him.

    • Lainey

      U are a sorry excuse of a person! I wouldn't even spit on you if I saw you!! If u say he was a waste of space, then what the hell r u??!! WORTHLESS!

    • native

      Thank you for the intelligent insight “Dolly”…..your comment really cleared up any wondering…..D…..O…U…C…H…E

  • Lainey

    River Phoenix inspired me so much when I was younger! I can't tell u how much I loved him, like seriously!! I actually named my first son River, after him. He was born in 1994, almost the same date as him, August 24 (instead of 23rd).