Last Night at the Viper Room: River Phoenix and the Hollywood He Left Behind details the career and private life of the actor who died of a drug overdose at age 23.

The book, written by Rolling Stone contributor Gavin Edwards, sketches out River Phoenix’s upbringing with his eccentric family and follows him to Hollywood. Once in Hollywood, Phoenix quickly became a favorite of critics, fans and coworkers and went on to appear in 24 projects on film and in TV. Among his best-known movies are Stand by Me (1986) and My Own Private Idaho (1991).

After charting the young actor's rise to super stardom, Edwards' book culminates at infamous Los Angeles club The Viper Room. On Oct. 31, 1993, River Phoenix was among the revelers at the Johnny Depp owned bar. When he began convulsing due to an overdose, friends were unsure whether or not to call an ambulance. Phoenix ultimately died that night on the sidewalk outside The Viper Room.

“River acted alongside people like Corey Feldman who came out very damaged. But again and again I heard stores from people that even when he was in awful situations, the best qualities in him would come through,” Edwards told Fox News. “He always showed a generosity of spirit. No matter how bad things got. That's why there was a lot of push and pull for Hollywood with him. It was compelling and awful and even when it was awful he showed his best self.”

Last Night at the Viper Room in addition to serving as a biography, provides an account of his acting contemporaries he left behind. Among those that were bursting onto the Hollywood scene as leading men in the early 90s were Depp, Brad Pitt, Nicholas Cage and Keanu Reeves. Leonardo DiCaprio was soon to follow.

– Chelsea Regan

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