River Phoenix was one of Hollywood’s most popular young actors before his untimely death from a drug overdose in 1993 and now his final film is to receive a wide release, its director hopes.

Nineteen years after it was shot, Dutch director George Sluizer told BBC News he hopes to give the film Dark Blood a wide release after filling absent scenes with still photographs and moving images from the cutting room floor.

Sluizer had been working with Phoneix for six weeks and had shot 80 percent of the film, before the lead actor collapsed outside the Viper Room nightclub in Los Angeles and died.

Dark Blood follows the story of a hermit (Phoenix) who lives in the American desert on a nuclear testing site awaiting the end of the world. His existence is turned upside down after rescuing a Hollywood couple (played by Judy Davis and Jonathan Pryce), whose car breaks down during a road-trip.

Phoenix previously had starring or supporting roles in acclaimed films such as Stand By Me, The Mosquito Coast, My Own Private Idaho and Sneakers. His role in Sidney Lumet’s Running on Empty garnered him nominations for both an Oscar and Golden Globe.

In September, Dark Blood received its world premiere at the Netherlands Film Festival in Utrecht. Reviewing the film, The Guardian wrote: "Dark Blood is fragmentary, uneven and downright odd in parts but it's also has huge curiosity value.

"The director's solution for bridging the considerable gaps is to read out descriptions of what is missing. It's a simple but surprisingly effective tactic. His narration ensures that the film is just about coherent."

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