Ethan Hawke has been an A-lister in Hollywood circles for about as long as anyone can remember, but he's never made the move to Tinseltown. The reason why? It's all due to his friend River Phoenix's death.
In speaking to The Guardian, Ethan said River's drug overdose in 1993 convinced him he never wanted to live in Los Angeles.
"My first screen partner overdosed on Sunset Boulevard, you know? He was the brightest light and this industry chewed him up, and that was a big lesson to me," Ethan said. "If I had to put a single reason on why I never moved to L.A., it would be I think it's too dangerous for an actor like me to be in that kind of climate."
River was a rising star when he died of an overdose outside The Viper Room. He was just 23 at the time.
Since then, several of Ethan's pals have passed away prematurely, including Philip Seymour Hoffman, who also died of an accidental overdose.
"Drugs and alcohol and depression are formidable opponents all over the world," Ethan said. "People think getting what you want will make you happy, but a sense of self, purpose and love don't come from the outside."
Ethan previously spoke about his admiration for River and Philip.
"There's probably only two actors of my generation who have inspired passionate envy in me, and that's River Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman," he told Rolling Stone in 2016. "It was mysterious to me, that these two guys that I felt such passion for both died the same way."
At that time in 2016, Ethan was starring in a biopic about Chet Baker, a trumpeter who died following a lifelong battle with drugs. He sees Chet in the same light as River and Phil.
"I see a lot of young people who think that if they indulge their depression and insecurities, it will create this gift. When in truth I think artists like River or Phil or Chet are succeeding despite the addiction," he said. "Yes, the pain and agony might create something – but there's got to be a really big talent there to begin with. Otherwise, you're better off getting sober and working every day like the rest of us."