177 user 69 critic

My Own Private Idaho (1991)

R | | Drama | 20 July 1991 (Japan)
2:16 | Trailer
Two best friends living on the streets of Portland as hustlers embark on a journey of self discovery and find their relationship stumbling along the way.


Gus Van Sant


Gus Van Sant (screenplay)
1,811 ( 558)
12 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
River Phoenix ... Mike Waters
Keanu Reeves ... Scott Favor
James Russo ... Richard Waters
William Richert ... Bob Pigeon
Rodney Harvey ... Gary
Chiara Caselli ... Carmella
Michael Parker Michael Parker ... Digger
Jessica Makinson ... Denise (as Jessie Thomas)
Flea ... Budd
Grace Zabriskie ... Alena
Tom Troupe ... Jack Favor
Udo Kier ... Hans
Sally Curtice Sally Curtice ... Jane Lightwork
Robert Lee Pitchlynn Robert Lee Pitchlynn ... Walt
Mickey Cottrell ... Daddy Carroll


Mike Waters lives on the street and befriends the somewhat older and streetwise Scott Favor who shows him what is necessary to survive. Waters suffers from narcolepsy and can fall asleep at any moment and in almost any circumstance. Favor comes from a rich family and is rebelling against his own background. They travel together extensively - Waters is driven by the need to find his biological mother - and spend time in Italy. Later in life however, Favor has joined mainstream society and has little time for his old friend. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


This road will never end. It probably goes all around the world. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sensuality, language and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Mike and Scott were based on, and named for, two real street hustlers that Gus Van Sant met while writing the script. One of them appears in the café scene. See more »


Mike's brother Richard speaks with a New York accent even though he's from Idaho. See more »


Gary: Hey man, did you get into that Sinead O'Connor concert last night?
Mike Waters: To the Sinead? What?
Gary: You know, the chick with the bald head.
Mike Waters: I've never been to a concert before, dude.
See more »


Featured in Brows Held High: Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (2012) See more »


Mr. Klein
Music Composed by Tom Dokoupil
Lyrics by Udo Kier
Performed by Udo Kier and Tom Dokoupil
Courtesy of Whitehouse Music
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User Reviews

25 July 2001 | by scr1veSee all my reviews

I watched this film because I enjoyed Drugstore Cowboy and To Die For. As this film was also made by Van Sant before he fell off and made Good Will Hunting and psycho- I was looking forward to an off-kilter ride through rent-boy land. What I got was in fact one of my favourite films, and certainly one of the most under-rated American independent films in recent history.

My Own Private Idaho has a kind of grimy transcendentalism that almost touches wong-kar-wai territory. The camera swaggers and frames with a touch that the cameraman must have been born with- the exposure always beautiful. Top marks to the DOP. Another revelation is the dialogue- sometimes playing on the Shakespearian themes that riddle the plot- itself sometimes works its way into a psuedo Shakespearian grandeur (look at the scenes with Bob in them). Another touch is the acting- fantastic performances from all concerned especially as it has been noted before River P. But lets not forget Reeves here- he also plays a fantastic part.

But please, regardless of what I have just said- please do not expect much (as I did not) and then you may emerge from the viewing amazed and glad that you had dedicated your time to this gifted film-maker (like I did).

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Frequently Asked Questions

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English | Italian | German

Release Date:

20 July 1991 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

My Own Private Idaho See more »

Filming Locations:

Oregon, USA See more »


Box Office


$2,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

New Line Cinema See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Ultra Stereo | Dolby SR


Color (Alphacine)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

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