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Kiefer Sutherland Recalls River Phoenix Story That May Have Inspired ‘Stand By Me’s Title

Kiefer Sutherland Recalls River Phoenix Story That May Have Inspired ‘Stand By Me’s Title

Kiefer Sutherland recently shared a behind-the-scenes moment with River Phoenix, that may have inspired the title of Stand by Me. During an interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Friday, the Lost Boys star shared an interesting story about a guitar session he had with the late Phoenix, his co-star in the 1986 coming-of-age film. He hinted that this special moment might have influenced the title of the beloved cult classic.

“We were making Stand by Me, which was a Stephen King [novella] called The Body, and River Phoenix was learning guitar and playing guitar and he was actually very, very good,” Sutherland explained to Fallon.

“…And I was playing “Stand by Me” and singing that song, and he said, ‘Oh, I love the melody of that song,’ and he hadn’t heard it before,” he added. “So I was teaching it to him and [director] Rob Reiner walked by and said, ‘Oh, I haven’t heard that song for a long time, I love it.’ And then that was the end of that discussion.”

“And then Rob Reiner ended up using that song for the film and changing the title to Stand by Me,” Sutherland pointed out.c”Do you think he changed…?” Jimmy Fallon started to ask. “I have no idea,” Sutherland interjected. “I just know it was part of that conversation.”

Kiefer Sutherland Played the Bully in ‘Stand By Me’, While River Phoenix Portrayed One of the Heroes

Sutherland portrayed the role of Ace Merrill, the antagonist, in the iconic movie. Kiefer Sutherland shared the screen with River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, and Will Wheaton, all of whom were teenagers at that time. The film takes place in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Oregon, in 1959. It follows the journey of four preteens as they embark on a hike to locate the lifeless body of a missing boy.

Stand by Me garnered widespread critical acclaim upon its release. The film holds a 92% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 59 reviews, with an average rating of 8 out of 10. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as two Golden Globe Award nominations – one for Best Drama Motion Picture and another for Best Director. Regarded by many as one of the most influential films of the 1980s, its impact remains undeniable. Unfortunately, Phoenix passed away at the young age of 23, seven years after the film’s release in 1993.