In September, the film “To Die For” will be completing 25 years of its theatrical releases in the USA. Indiewire spoke with director Gus Van Sant, crew members and part of the cast to talk about the film.

Playing Jimmy at 19 in “To Die For” was one of Joaquin Phoenix’s first major film roles after appearing in 1980s movies such as “Space Camp” and “Parenthood,” when he was still credited as Leaf Phoenix.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by ITV/Shutterstock (790382nq) ‘To Die for’ – Joaquin Phoenix, Casey Affleck and Alison Folland GTV Archive

Gus Van Sant: Then we heard through the agent grapevine that Joaquin Phoenix wanted to audition. I’d met him when I visited the set of [director Nancy Savoca’s film] ‘Dogfight’ in Seattle [starring Phoenix’s late brother River, who passed away October 1993 and starred in Van Sant’s 1991 film ‘My Own Private Idaho’]. I thought, ‘That’s unbelievable.’ We were all still mourning River.

Meredith Tucker, then casting assistant to late casting director Howard FeuerJoaquin was 19 and living in Florida with his family. He came to New York around early 1994 to read. I think Gus still had Matt Damon in his head like, ‘Ok, let’s see if anyone can surpass him.’

Van Sant: Joaquin comes in looking so destitute.

Tucker: It’s still one of the most incredible auditions I’ve ever witnessed; a magic moment and also just so intense because of River.

Casey Affleck: I didn’t know Joaquin before this. He was a nice kid and we got along really well. He’d come from a showbiz family, where I didn’t know anything about anything. We moved into a house together in Toronto and had a blast.

Nicole Kidman: I was still young, too — barely 27! I remember feeling, ‘I wanna hang with you guys,’ but always felt a bit ‘daggy’ around them, an Australian word for ‘geeky.’ I remember during the scenes we shot at the high school I said, ‘My God, you boys are so naughty.’ And Joaquin says, ‘You’re really hot in a stewardess kind of way.’ I’m like, ‘I’m not sure if that’s a compliment.’ (Laughs) They were mischievous.

Van Sant: I remember a very funny moment when we were doing a wide-shot of Joaquin in the jail-cell. There were bright lights on him, so he couldn’t see us behind the camera. One by one people started leaving the set and for a while Joaquin didn’t realize he was all alone. He was trying to stay in character but asked ‘So are we gonna shoot?’ and nobody answered. He walks into the adjacent room and everyone had gathered around a TV to watch the O.J. Bronco chase on the freeway. Surreal.

Note: Phoenix didn’t respond to requests to be interviewed for this story.

Read the full article at indiewire.