River grew up in a very poor family. He and his sister often had to busk to make money for the family. It was only after Stand By Me that River's family was able to buy a car which was not second hand.
He and his family were all vegetarians. He believed that eating animals was wrong and was the one who, as a child, convinced his family to become vegans. His opinions on the issue were so strong, that when his actress girlfriend, Martha Plimpton, ordered lobster at a restaurant, he started to cry in disappointment.
Phoenix was one of five siblings who pursued careers in show business, encouraged by their parents, former Children of God missionaries.
River hated being seen as a sex symbol.
So far, of his siblings, his younger brother Joaquin has achieved the greatest success.