He Was Filming a Reality Show. Then: 'I Can't Carry On'

Godfrey Gao dies after collapsing during 'Chase Me' competition in China
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2019 10:40 AM CST
Actor Dies After Collapsing on Reality-TV Set
Actor Godfrey Gao arrives at the world premiere of "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" in Los Angeles on Aug. 12, 2013.   (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)

An actor's death in China during filming of a reality show that pushes contestants to their physical limits has been met with uproar. Godfrey Gao, a 35-year-old actor and the first Asian male model signed by Louis Vuitton, collapsed from an apparent heart problem Wednesday in Ningbo while filming Chase Me, a show that "invites actors as well as ordinary people to compete in [a] variety of sports challenges, often to the point of exhaustion," per the New York Times. The paper adds "millions" have since criticized the show, especially on Weibo, where Gao—born in Taiwan and raised in Vancouver, Canada—counted 5.7 million followers. "The show's awareness of safety precautions is too poor. It must be held responsible!" wrote actor-director Xu Zheng. Others called for a boycott of state-owned Zhejiang Television, which aired Chase Me.

Gao was running in a competition during filming for the ninth episode of the show's first season when he collapsed, according to a statement by the show's production team. An audience member reportedly heard him shout, "I can't carry on," per Taiwan News, which adds "cameramen swarmed around him and kept filming, apparently believing that his actions were part of the show." After an attempt to revive him, Gao was pronounced dead at a hospital. Producers described a "sudden cardiac death," per the BBC. "We feel very grieved and extremely sad!" they said, per the Times. Gao appeared with Lily Collins in 2013's The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. He also starred in a Chinese soap opera, Remembering Lichuan. A week-old Instagram photo shows him playing basketball with Adam Sandler in Santa Monica, Calif. (Read more China stories.)

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