Netflix and Redrum, producers of “The Chosen One” series, have released statements about the traffic accident in Baja California that killed two of their actors on Thursday. Two other cast members and four crew members were injured, but remain stable and have returned home to recover.
Netflix said: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident that claimed the lives of Ray Garduño and Juan Francisco González. Our thoughts are with their loved ones and those injured in this unfortunate accident.
Redrum added, “All of us on the production of ‘The Chosen One’ are shocked by the tragic accident that happened last Thursday while we were in transit from Santa Rosalía, Baja California to the local airport. We are deeply saddened by the deaths of our colleagues Ray Garduño and Juan Francisco González and closely support all those affected by this untold tragedy. Redrum has been cooperating with local authorities and initial reports and testimonies indicate that all safety protocols were in place and that it was an unfortunate accident.
Garduño and Gonzalez had supporting roles on the show. Production has been halted but is expected to resume after the ongoing investigation and a period of mourning has passed, according to sources familiar with the production. Variety contacted the families for their statements.
The two actors, who were in their late 40s, worked on the horror film “Here Comes the Devil” for Salto de Fe Films and Morbido Films. Its director Adrián Garcia Bogliano said: “I and my producing partner at Salto de Fe Films, Andrea Quiroz, are heartbroken at the news of the untimely deaths of Ray Garduño and Paco Mufote. We have fond memories of working with them, they were great professionals, incredibly talented and loved by the Baja California film and cultural community. We will miss them.
Gonzalez, also known as Paco Mufote, had been active in both theater and film, the two disciplines he studied. His acting credits include “Sleep Dealer” (2006), “Norteado” (2008), “Yan She: El Hombre que Espera” (2010) and “Here Comes the Devil” (2012).
He has worked on various plays, directed by ‘Cristo light’, ‘Primero de octubre’ and ‘Edipo güey’, among others. He also starred in the play “L ́arpenteur” directed by Chantal Gresset, which was staged in Tijuana, Mexico and Rennes, France, and also participated in the National Geographic documentary series “Locked Up Abroad “.
Garduño was renowned in Baja as a director as well as an actor and cultural director with more than fifteen years of experience in the field.
As a director, he has staged more than 10 shows, including “Kikiricaja”, “Immolación”, “No Touch”, “Papá está en La Atlántida” and “Dios es un bicho”. Some of them have been presented in festivals and theater shows in Mexico, Latin America and Spain.
He was the founder and general coordinator of Children’s Theater Week, one of the most prestigious festivals of its kind in Mexico. As an actor, Garduño has participated in more than 20 plays, films and television series.
He is considered one of the most important and respected creators and promoters of contemporary theater dedicated to children and young people.
‘The Chosen One’ is an adaptation of the ‘American Jesus’ comic book series about a 12-year-old boy who, after a freak accident, discovers that he is the reincarnation of Jesus and is destined to save the humanity.
Variety spoke to a transport driver who is familiar with the road where the accident occurred and who has worked on other shoots in Baja. He noted that long and exhausting hours for drivers are the norm in most productions in Mexico. The accident happened on “the most dangerous stretch of road between Loreto and Mulege, full of turns and potholes”, he said. “A lot of accidents happen there.”
Plus, logistics are an issue, with the nearest airport, Loreto, about four hours away from filming.
“We have lost two very loved people, we are all suffering,” said a production actor who preferred to remain anonymous. He said the set was a hybrid of union and non-union actors. “It’s a really good project, it’s a shame it’s been tainted by people writing as if they know what really happened.”
A funeral wake was held on June 19 in Tijuana where the two actors are from.
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