25 favorite ’80s and ’90s teenage heartthrobs and what they’re doing now

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River Phoenix

What made him a heartthrob: Mostly due to the heartbreaking role in Stand By Me, Phoenix was identified early on as a sensitive and brooding enigma. He went to give us so much more than we could have ever hoped, and it was his role as a young Indian Jones that really made the ladies swoon.

He grew into a lot of edgier, adult roles, and his turn as the gay, narcoleptic hustler in My Private Idaho made him the heartthrob he became. The Thing Called Love further proved that the child actor could hold his own among meatier roles.

Sadly, Phoenix died at the tender age of 23 after he lost his battle with addiction. Hailed as one of the greatest young actors of his time, his death is still considered one of the greatest losses of his time.

River at his best: His last full movie, The Thing Called Love, may not have been the most critically popular, but it really showcased what a sweet soul Phoenix was. I dare you not to be completely enamored with him.