Actor Leonardo DiCaprio was one of the last people in Hollywood to see actor River Phoenix alive.
During a recent interview, Leonardo shared one of the "most ominous and sad" experiences he has had in the entertainment industry. The actor revealed, "I grew up revering River Phoenix as the great actor of my generation, and all I ever wanted was to have just an opportunity to shake his hand. And one night, at a party in Silver Lake, I saw him walk up a flight of stairs. It was almost like something you would see in Vertigo because I saw there was something in his face, and I'd never met him - always wanted to meet him, always wanted to just have an encounter with him - and he was walking toward me and I kind of froze."
He continued the story and said, "And then the crowd got in my way, and I looked back and he was gone." After River vanished in the crowd, Leonardo didn't give up on trying to meet the actor. "I walked back up the stairs and back down, and I was like, ‘Where did he go?' And he was... on his way to The Viper Room," he explained.
The Stand By Me actor died from a drug overdose at 23 years of age in October 1993 outside the iconic Los Angeles landmark. Realising that he had seen his acting hero so close to his death shook Leonardo. "It was almost as if - I don't know how to describe it, but it's this existential thing where I felt like... he disappeared in front of my very eyes, and the tragedy that I felt afterward of having lost this great influence for me and all of my friends," he continued.
Leonardo ended it by saying, "The actor we all talked about. Just to be able to have that, always wanting to just-and I remember extending my hand out, and then... Two people came in front and then I looked back, and then he wasn't there." The actor will soon be seen on the big screen in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon A Time In... Hollywood in theatres July 26.