It’s the automatic association
And this isn’t meant as any disrespect to Martha Plimpton who is doing good work and has a new Fox TV show with Cloris Leachman premiering after Glee in September called Raising Hope and has been nominated for 3 Tony Awards and deserves to be recognised in her own right for her accomplishments but it’s just that, well, if you loved River Phoenix, you can’t help but think of him when you see her.
Earlier this year I tagged along with Laura and Lorella for Remember Me and a good laugh and there was Martha in the opening scene and I thought to myself, holy sh-t, River would have been 40. Then I watched her again in How to Make it in America and I could hear the 15 year old me wondering why he wasn’t with someone prettier (don’t lie, you did too), and it was only after he died, reading about his memorial, and her comments after, that I appreciated who she would have been for him, and why he loved her so much.
Martha tried desperately to get River to stop using. And she was one of the few after his death to speak up against the enablers, to rage against the fact that his passing was so heartbreakingly unnecessary, to stop glamourising his story. There was a really great article published by Esquire afterwards with access to his mother, his friends, Samantha Mathis, and Martha Plimpton offering some insight about his life and the end, quoting colleagues, castmates, and lovers on how River lived and died.
I was in university when the magazine came out just shy of six months after. I read the piece over and over again. And at that age, when something like that goes down, you romanticise a lot, and much of what’s there doesn’t really get absorbed. When my parents moved I found that issue again and re-read it with different perspective. I think Martha was so brave for saying what she did and when she did so soon after he was gone.
"(River is) already being made into a martyr. He's become a metaphor for a fallen angel, a messiah. He wasn't. He was just a boy, a very good-hearted boy who was very f-cked-up and had no idea how to implement his good intentions. I don't want to be comforted by his death. I think it's right that I'm angry about it, angry at the people who helped him stay sick, and angry at River."
All her comments are so candid throughout the article, she is real and grounded and likeable and you will root for her. It’s a hard link to find but a River Phoenix fansite has reproduced the piece. Click here to read. But beware of how much time you’ll lose. Because every time I get lost in River googling, all of a sudden it’s hours later. Sometimes I still can’t believe it.
As for Martha, she was at the Fox All Star Party last night in Santa Monica celebrating her new show Raising Hope premiering September 21. She plays mom to a teen who comes home one day with a baby by his serial killer ex girlfriend.
Photos from Wenn.com