Netflix and Redrum, producers of the series “The Chosen One,” have issued statements on the Baja California road accident that killed two of their actors on Thursday. Two other cast members and four crew members were injured, but remain stable and have gone home to recover.
Said Netflix: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident that took the lives of Ray Garduño and Juan Francisco González. Our thoughts are with their loved ones and with those injured during this unfortunate accident.”
Added Redrum: “All of us on the production of ‘The Chosen One’ are shocked by the tragic accident occurred last Thursday, while on transit from Santa Rosalía, Baja California, to the local airport. We are deeply saddened by the passing of our colleagues Ray Garduño and Juan Francisco González and are closely supporting all those affected by this unspeakable tragedy. Redrum has been cooperating with local authorities and initial reports and accounts from witnesses indicating that all safety protocols were in place and this was an unfortunate accident.”
Garduño and Gonzalez had supporting roles in the series. The production has been halted but is expected to resume after the current investigation and a period of mourning has passed, according to sources close to the production. Variety has reached out to the families for their statements.
Both actors, who were in their late ’40s, worked on the horror film “Here Comes the Devil” for Salto de Fe Films and Morbido Films. Said its director Adrián Garcia Bogliano: “I and my producing partner at Salto de Fe Films, Andrea Quiroz, are heartbroken at the news of the untimely death of Ray Garduño and Paco Mufote. We have fond memories of working with them, they were great professionals, incredibly talented and loved by the filmmaking and cultural community of Baja California. They will be missed.”
Gonzalez, also known as Paco Mufote, had been active in both theater and film, both 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 worked on various stage plays, led by “Cristo light,” “Primero de octubre” and “Edipo güey,” among others. He was also in the Chantal Gresset-directed play “L ́arpenteur,” 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 stage director as well as an actor and cultural manager with more than fifteen years of experience in the field.
As a stage director, he directed more than 10 shows, among them “Kikiricaja,” “Immolación,” “No Touch,” “Papá está en La Atlántida” and “Dios es un bicho.” Some of these were presented across festivals and theater shows in Mexico, Latin America and Spain.
He was the founder and general coordinator of the Theater Week for Children, one of the most prestigious festivals of its kind in Mexico. As an actor, Garduño has participated in more than 20 plays, movies and TV series.
He is considered one of the most important and respected creators and promoters of contemporary theater dedicated to children and the youth.
“The Chosen One” is an adaptation of the comic book series “American Jesus” about a 12-year-old boy who, after a freak accident, discovers he is the reincarnation of Jesus and is destined to save humanity.
Variety spoke to a transport driver who is familiar with the road where the accident occurred and has worked on other shoots in Baja. He noted that long, exhausting hours for drivers are the norm in most productions in Mexico. The accident occurred in “the most dangerous stretch of road between Loreto and Mulege, full of curves and potholes,” he said. “A lot of accidents happen there.”
Additionally, logistics are an issue, with the nearest airport, Loreto, about four hours from the location shoot.
“We lost two very beloved people, we’re all hurting,” said an actor on the production who prefers to remain anonymous. He said the set was a hybrid of union and non-union actors. “It’s a very good project, it’s a shame it has been tainted by people writing as if they know what really happened.”
A wake was held on June 19 in Tijuana where both actors are from.