Interview Magazine, March 1991
My Director and Iinterview by River Phoenix
Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho - the title taken from a B-52 song and the story, in part, from Henry IV, Parts I and II - stars River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves as street prostitutes in Portland, Oregon: one a narcoleptic, the other a modern-day Prince Hal to a gay, Falstaffian gang leader (William Richert). The movie maintains the affinity for strung-out rebels that the thirty-eight-year-old Van Sant, a Rhode Island School of Design film graduate and former adman and Roger Corman PA, had demonstrated in his two previous films. Mala Noche, shot with considerable verve on 16mm for $20,000 in 1985, was the story of a convenience-store manager's forlorn passion for a Mexican migrant labourer. Drugstore Cowboy, probably the best picture of 1989, was an agreeably grungy and bitterly funny slice of nostalgia for the low-life junkie culture of the early 1970s that sacrificed neither the jaunty skid-row lyricism nor the raw romanticism of its predecessor.
In a Seattle sushi bar
RIVER PHOENIX: In general, do you have fun ?
GUS VAN SANT: In general? Do you mean when I'm not shooting?
RP: Specifically, do you have fun if you like something that you're working on, or do you just enjoy yourself anyway?