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A study for the scene in My Own Private Idaho written by River Phoenix by Jean Manuel Beauchamp

A study for the scene in My Own Private Idaho written by River Phoenix by Jean Manuel Beauchamp

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Published by Panaman

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Published by: Panaman on Nov 12, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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A study for the scene in
My Own Private Idaho 
written by River Phoenix
by Jean Manuel Beauchampfor "Directing Actors" by Professor Laura Morganat The New Schoolin 2011
My intention for directing a scene from the film
My Own Private Idaho 
is onedone from a desire to eat. Idaho is a state mostly known for its potatoes, a food that thefilm's lead actor River Phoenix most likely appreciated eating on-set. As a lifelongvegetarian, River was known to enjoy tofu omelets with potatoes prepared by hismother on film sets. I would have loved to share a plate with him and talk about this film.
My Own Private Idaho 
is a film written and directed by Gus Van Sant, who hadalways wanted River Phoenix to play the character of Mike, the young narcolepticprostitute. River wasn't known to play such a role, but his friend and co-star KeanuReeves was able to convince him to act. However, River didn't really like to act.
From the interviews he gave throughout his life, River Phoenix did notnecessarily like to act. From what people have said about him, he seemed to be tooself-conscious to be an actor. It's a good thing River Phoenix doesn't really act.
River's self-consciousness must have come from the fact that humans pay moreattention to other humans instead of the world around them. To work in filmmaking as
an actor pretending to be another human in a superficial world, his beliefs thategocentricity distracts from greater things on Earth could have been betrayed.
In the craft of acting, the main player reacts to the other player. Whether theother player be an actor, an object, a location, or an emotion in himself, the main actorwill always be left to his own direction. In the collaboration aspect of capturing the storyon film, the actors role as actor is reduced to a minimal scale.
In the decade of the 1980's, the industry of film was enjoying the profits of theprevious decade's successes and the studios kept hiring larger crews with higherbudgets. Larger crews meant little focus the story and more focus toward the salary.River became aware of this early on and was selective with the roles he chose, takingsolace in his family, his homes, and his music.
River was quite aware of the superficial necessity to hire actors who wouldappeal more commercially than emotionally. His personal life wasn't really making thestudio-funded tabloids promote his films, and when they did, all he would talk about wasenvironmental conservation efforts and vegetarianism. Whenever the press would try toget any scandal, they would find none. Simply a guy who was just doing his job as amember of the Earth. The only scandal they got was on the night of his death, when hebecame a victim of a heroin overdose given to him by a bandmate. This final nightbecame publicized more than his environmentalism ever did. Despite River's inductioninto the celebrity overdose grouping of Hollywood history, his legacy as a spiritual
activist lives on in his recorded performances. Any doubt of River's reluctance to appealmass-commercially was confirmed when he took on the role of Mike. It is a role whichinvolved not only mental illness, poverty, and abandonment, but also sexualnonchalance and ambiguity.
The character of Mike suffers from narcolepsy, a chemical imbalance in the brainthat causes him to fall asleep anywhere at any time. Before he passes out, he thinks ofhis mother and his home in Idaho, the only place he had any privacy. What Mike wantsfrom life is to find his mother in order to hopefully never suffer a narcoleptic sleep again.The world in his eyes is one of vast space, like Idahoan fields, where people are free todo whatever they please, as long as its done private and in peace. There is noexistence of night nor day because sleep is just a moment between walking.
Ironically for Mike's profession, narcolepsy is not a productive illness to have.Mike is part of a society of young men who meet people of various genders toencourage their fetishes for the price of cash. In other words, he is a prostitute. Unlikethe rest, though, Mike sells his body for neither emotional nor financial gain.
His co-worker and best friend is Scott, played by Keanu Reeves asheterosexually straight. The character of Scott, by Keanu, is the son of a mayor who isdays away from receiving his million dollar trust-fund. He hustles for pleasure butspeaks as eloquent as Shakespeare. Scott wants nothing but a wife and home (after hegets his money).

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