Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford 'Heartbroken' by His Son Rio's Death: He 'Showed Us How to Live'

Taylor Hackford and Helen Mirren also say in a statement that his son, Rio Hackford, "died of uveal melanoma, a very aggressive and rare form of cancer"

Rio Del Valle Hackford
Photo: Libby Grace; Getty

Helen Mirren and husband Taylor Hackford are speaking out for the first time following the death of Taylor's son and Mirren's stepson, Rio Hackford.

In a statement shared with PEOPLE, the couple, who have been married since 1997, say they "are both inspired by the life of our son and stepson, Rio Hackford, and heartbroken by his loss."

"His life showed us how to live in generosity and community," they add. "He shared his life's journey with so many who now mourn him, and at the same time, celebrate their fortune in knowing him."

An actor known for roles in The Mandalorian, Treme and American Crime Story, Rio died Thursday in Huntington Beach, California, his brother Alex Hackford previously told Variety. He was 51.

"Rio died of uveal melanoma, a very aggressive and rare form of cancer," Taylor, 77, and Mirren, 76, reveal in their statement. "We would beg everyone reading this to get their eyes tested at least once a year, which might save their loved ones from this cancer."

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Josh Homme - Rio Tattoo
Josh Homme. Josh Homme

Among those who sent Mirren and Taylor tributes to Rio were Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme, who also got a tattoo in honor of the late actor.

"Rio just knew things. Esoteric things. Off-the-map things. Secret things. Wonderful things," says Homme, 48. "He knew these things because of his charm, wit, honesty, character and tough personality. He was a real man in a sea of poseurs."

"Rio … a titan of kindness, love, class, courage. And cool. A legend," says Renée Zellweger.

Vince Vaughn, who starred with Rio in several films including Fred Claus (2007) and Swingers (1996), says he was "as loyal and funny as anyone could be." Adds Vaughn, 52, "Rio was the best ever. Truly one of a kind."

Rio Hackford and Helen Mirren
Rio Hackford and Helen Mirren. Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Rio made his first onscreen appearance in 1990 with Pretty Woman, and has appeared over the years in such films and TV shows as Swingers, Raising Helen, Deja Vu, Fred Claus, Jonah Hex and True Detective. His most recent credit was in Hulu's Pam & Tommy.

Following news of his death, Mirren shared a throwback photo in remembrance of her late stepson Saturday on Instagram. "El Rio," she wrote in the caption.

Rio's friend and screenwriter D.V. DeVincentis penned a heartfelt tribute, sharing a black-and-white photo of the late actor. "Rio was more attuned to experience than anyone I've ever known," he wrote in part. "He would stop what was happening to point it out, compel you to pay attention."

"He would order you a must-have experience from a beloved menu and hold your eye as you paid attention to what was happening in your mouth. 'Right, Guy? I mean… right?' " DeVincentis recalled. "He would put an experience for you on the stereo, then start it over and play it again for you because we were talking over it the first time and 'Pal, you really have to listen to it.' "

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