AceShowbiz - Two actors from Netflix's "The Chosen One" have tragically passed away in the middle of production for the thriller series. Six other crew members were also injured after a production van crashed on Thursday, June 16 near Mulege, a city on the Baja California Sur peninsula, in Mexico.
The Baja California Institute of Culture (ICBC) has confirmed that the two actors killed in the accident were Raymundo Garduno Cruz and Juan Francisco Gonzalez Aguilar, known professionally as "Paco Mufote". The injured crew members are reportedly in stable condition.
Local media reported that the van ran off the road in a desert area before flipping. The crew had apparently been working in the nearby Santa Rosalia area at the time.
A spokesperson for Netflix said in a statement the accident was not on the set of the show, but happened in transit from Santa Rosalia to the local airport. The rep added that Netflix's thoughts are with the families of the dead actors and that Redrum, the production company behind the series, has temporarily paused filming. The company will not comment further as the investigation is ongoing.
The accident has enraged friends of the two actors killed in the crash as they alleged that Netflix and the independent production company had exploited the crew to save money. They claimed to have heard the cast members complaining about poor transport and logistics.
Liliana Conlisk Gallegos, a friend of Mufote who has worked in the film industry, and is an artist and scholar, told The Daily Beast, "Paco touched the hearts of everyone he ever met, he was a great actor with a strong trajectory. He loved acting and playing music more than anything in the world and he dedicated himself to it, many times suffering economic hardship. He sacrificed for his love of acting."
"It fills me with rage that there are reports of abuse and exploitation being shared by people involved with the production," she added. She demanded an investigation as saying, "I would like to demand that this is further investigated. If nothing wrong was going on, then there shouldn’t be an issue with providing the information. It pains me to think he was taken advantage of, that he was being forced to work in subpar conditions, especially for a multimillionaire company like Netflix."
Fernando Bonilla, fellow actor and friend of Cruz, echoed the claims of exploited labor and overworked drivers on Twitter. "Ray was an actor, director, and cultural manager who made Tijuana his home. He was a festive and generous friend," he wrote. "Many film and television productions have drivers overexploited, causing these f**king tragedies. I just found out and I can't believe it. I have a crushed heart."
Based on writer Mark Millar and artist Peter Gross' comic book American Jesus, "The Chosen One" is described as a story about "a 12-year-old boy [who] learns he's the returned Jesus Christ, destined to save humankind." The show reportedly began filming in Mexico back in April.