River Phoenix died of a drug overdose, aged only 23, in 1993. George Sluizer saw the actor only hours before he died in LA.
Sluizer said, “I was in fact staying in the same hotel – in the next room. I was driving into the hotel and he was driving out with friends. He said ‘see you tomorrow’ and that was it,” reported the BBC.
The young actor was working on a new film, named Dark Blood, about a recluse who rescues a couple broken down in the desert.
The main scenes had already been shot when Phoenix passed away. The actors and directors were in Hollywood to shoot the other scenes.
Sluizer told BBC News: “We had shot 80 per cent – but it is not continuous, it is so many little pieces here and there.”
Only one day of filming in Hollywood had taken place, before Phoenix passed away.
“We were quite close,” said Sluizer. “My son sometimes said ‘you seem closer to River than to me’.”
After problems with the insurance company and bank, it was decided that the film would be stopped and to avoid further storage costs it would be burned.
Supposedly the director tried to smuggle the footage out of the locked room.
“I got some friends and someone who can open locks to open the storage house and get the stuff out. I did not do it myself, but I’m responsible for… getting it on a truck and getting it away during the night and having it go to New York and then later shipped to Europe,” reported the BBC.
Now the director will finally get to launch the footage he has, despite it being incomplete.
“I did my best – with the material I had – to make it an understandable and plausible story. Apparently people say it works,” said Sluizer.
The film has already be screened at the Netherlands Film Festival in Utrecht and it will be released on a global scale soon.