TAB 200519 Joaquin Phoenix Rooney Mara-1589874358068
Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix. Image Credit:

Actors Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara welcomed their first son together and named him River, after Joaquin’s late brother.

The couple, who tend to be shy of the limelight, didn’t reveal the news themselves. Russian director Victor Kossakovsky was the one who broke the news at Zurich Film Festival, during an audience Q&A.

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“He just got baby, by the way, beautiful son called ‘River’,” said Kossakovsky, as he responded to a question about Joaquin joining his animal rights documentary ‘Gunda’ as an executive producer.

River, Joaquin’s oldest brother, died aged 23 after a short but memorable acting career. River starred in films such as ‘Stand by Me’, ‘Running on Empty’ and ‘My Own Private Idaho’, the last of which earned him an Oscar nomination. He died of a drug overdose in West Hollywood in 1993.

Many fans shared emotional reactions on social media after reports first emerged that Joaquin and Mara had named their first son River, as an apparent homage to Joaquin’s late brother. “I was not prepared for my emotional reaction to the news that Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara named their new baby boy River,” one wrote, while another said they were “drowning in my own tears”.

Joaquin’s sisters have also paid tribute to their late brother through the names of their children. In 1996, Liberty Phoenix named her son Rio, one of River’s nicknames. In 2004, Summer Phoenix named her son Indiana, after River’s role as the young version of Indiana Jones in ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’.

Joaquin, 45, and Mara, 35, have been in a relationship since 2016 and confirmed they were engaged in 2019. They have yet to comment on the birth of their son.