River Phoenix was a victim of Hollywood.

In a new interview with The Guardian, Ethan Hawke opened up about his friend and former co-star, who died of a drug overdose outside a Los Angeles nightclub in 1993 at the age of 23.

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Hawke explained that Phoenix’s story is part of reason he’s largely stuck to making independent and smaller films over his career.

“Why [don’t I] make easier movies? Well, my first screen partner overdosed on Sunset Boulevard,” he said of Phoenix. “He was the brightest light and this industry chewed him up, and that was a big lesson to me.”

The two actors starred together in the adventure film “Explorers” when they were both 14.

Hawke continued, “If I had to put a single reason on why I never moved to LA, it would be I think it’s too dangerous for an actor like me to be in that kind of climate.”

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He also expressed that he could understand why many actors suffer from depression and substance addiction.

“Drugs and alcohol and depression are formidable opponents all over the world,” Hawke said. “People think getting what you want will make you happy, but a sense of self, purpose and love don’t come from the outside. You can’t get distracted by this culture that celebrates things that sometimes aren’t what they seem.”