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River Phoenix's last screen role

The late River Phoenix will appear on screen in a new movie, as director George Sluizer completes Dark Blood, in which the actor played his final role before his death in 1993.

The 80 year-old director was compelled to complete the project after a near-death experience of his own. When he recovered from the aneurysm five years ago, Sluizer decided it was time to revisit the Dark Blood material.

Phoenix plays a disturbed young man brooding in a nuclear testing site in the Utah desert, who holds captive an affluent couple played by Jonathan Pryce and Judy Davis. Phoenix died of a drugs overdose 11 days before shooting was due to end. "I guess I am a craftsman, in the sense that I don't like unfinished products," Sluizer told The Guardian.

There were rumours that the director would ask River’s brother Joaquin to help with voiceovers, but the Phoenix family did not want to be involved. Sluizer said that was never his intention and that he has not finished the film in order to feed fans’ fascination with the Phoenix myth.

"I make films and tell stories," he said. "I use actors to tell those stories. This is not a film about River." He does admit that Phoenix was a very unusual actor to work with. "He was special in the sense that he was very instinctive. He was dyslexic, which meant he couldn't learn two lines without making a mistake. That meant he had to understand what he said, to feel it. That gave him a certain strength."

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