K.T. Oslin’s Film Career Included River Phoenix’s Final Film

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K.T. Oslin played Lucy, owner of the Bluebird Cafe, in a movie called The Thing Called Love that included some pretty famous Hollywood actors. Sandra Bullock and River Phoenix played important roles. So, too, did Trisha Yearwood.

The Thing Called Love would actually end up being Phoenix’s final finished film, as the young actor died of a drug overdose two months after its release, on Oct. 31, 1993. The movie’s late-summer opening did not lead to massive box office or critical acclaim; in fact, it was something of a flop and is now a very forgettable part of Bullock’s filmography.

That’s not to say Oslin didn’t do her job. The late-1980s hitmaker was a trained theater actress who’d dabbled with television work prior to taking the movie. A trailer shows her as a believable barkeep — see for yourself:

That’s Samantha Mathis playing the lead role, Miranda Presley. The young, aspiring singer and songwriter has just moved to Nashville looking for fame and success but finds the town was not exactly waiting for her. Bullock plays another aspiring singer, while Yearwood plays herself (as did Pam Tillis) and is involved in a scene where Miranda and Kyle (Dermot Mulroney) try to break into a car. We don’t want to spoil it, but things don’t go well for the pair of amateur vandals.

Oslin gives Mathis’ Miranda a job at the Bluebird and some sage advice throughout the film. Phoenix plays the moody James, a songwriter who serves as Miranda’s love interest. The pair get married in the film, but separate, only to reunite before the end of the movie. In real life, Mathis and Phoenix also dated; in fact, she was there the night he died at age 23 in Los Angeles, Calif., and has, in recent years, been one of the reliable narrators of his final hours.

Oslin died on Dec. 21, 2020, after a battle with Parkinson’s disease and a short battle with COVID-19. She’s best known for songs including “80s Ladies” and “Do Ya.”

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