Why were you, unlike most other child stars, able to handle the transition from child to adult roles?
Because I keep my distance from the outside-in view of who I am. I just don’t listen to things that could bring me down or things that could boost me up. I’ve kept my ego and my happiness completely separate from my work. I don’t depend on my work to make me feel good about myself. When people invest their ego and their self-image in their work, and one day someone doesn’t look at it in the same way they do, or you grow up and your eyebrows get bushy and you don’t get parts, you fall so heavily and you hurt so bad.
But you do get happiness from your work?
Oh, I get great satisfaction. But basically I’m talking about people who are more image-oriented, people who are thrilled when they see their face on the cover of a magazine. I go into remission, shut myself out, and freak. I don’t like being out there.
— The US Interview: River Phoenix by David Rensin, 1991.
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