In October 1993, River Phoenix passed away from an overdose after a night out at the Viper Room nightclub with his girlfriend, Samantha Mathis. The actress remained silent about what happened that night for the following 25 years.
She finally decided to share her experience during a 2018 interview with The Guardian. Mathis said she thought her boyfriend was sober until the incident at the club but still recalled:
“I knew something was wrong that night, something I didn’t understand. I didn’t see anyone doing drugs, but he was high in a way that made me feel uncomfortable — I was in way over my head.”
That night, the couple’s plan was to drop off Phoenix’s younger siblings, Rain and Joaquin, at the Viper Room. But their visit dragged out, as Mathis explained:
“But when we arrived, he said to me, ‘Oh, there are some people playing music tonight in the club who want me to play with them — that’s Okay, right?’ Forty-five minutes later, he was dead.”
According to Bob Forrest, the actor spent his last few days drug-binging with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante and didn’t feel well while performing on stage. But Samantha Mathis told The Guardian interviewer that:
“The heroin that killed him didn’t happen until he was in the Viper Room. I have my suspicions about what was going on, but I didn’t see anything.”
When Phoenix collapsed on the sidewalk out of the Viper Room, Joaquin made a 911 call, and Rain attempted to resuscitate him. Upon arrival, the paramedics found the actor alive, but he later died at the hospital due to ‘acute multiple drug intoxication.’
While commenting on his death years later, his ex-girlfriend also mentioned what could have happened if he was still alive. She said:
“I think if River was still here, I think he’d be acting, directing, saving the environment, just living and hanging out. Oh gosh, wouldn’t that be nice?”
You can check out Samantha Mathis’ 2018 interview here.