“River doesn’t have a false bone in his body,” says the director Sidney Lumet of Phoenix’s performance in Running On Empty, soon to be released over here. “He can’t utter a false line. He stopped in the middle of one scene while we were shooting and said, ‘This feels fake to me.’ I listened again. He was right. I cut the scene. So long as River follows his instincts, takes stuff he believes in, there’ll be no stopping him. I first saw him in Stand By Me and there was such an extraordinary purity about him.’’ 

- Sidney Lumet about River for The Face, July 1989.

‘’I loved him. It was just an extraordinary couple of months working with him. (…) The talent is original. River doesn’t know how to do anything falsely. Give him a false direction and he’ll look up helplessly. He has a surprising technique that he has developed on his own - he has never studied acting. He couldn’t be ordinary if he tried.’’

[’Running on Empty’ director Sidney Lumet on River].