Godfrey Gao, ‘Mortal Instruments: City of Bones’ Star, Dies at 35 on Reality TV Set

Taiwanese-Canadian actor was filming Chinese reality competition show when he collapsed on set

Godfrey Gao
Photo credit: Getty Images

Godfrey Gao, the Taiwanese Canadian model-actor who broke stereotypes for Asian men in the worlds of fashion and entertainment, died Wednesday in China. He was 35.

Gao, who starred in 2012’s “The Mortal Instuments: City if Bones,” was filming a Chinese TV show called “Chase Me” — a reality competition show where contestants perform arduous physical tasks — when he collapsed. He was attended by the show’s staff and rushed to a hospital, where sudden cardiac death was announced, reportEd the Straits Times.

“In the early hours of Nov. 27, our beloved Godfrey collapsed while filming on set. Unfortunately following three hours of medical rescue efforts, he left us. We are very shocked and saddened and even until now find it impossible to accept,” a statement from his management company JetStar read on the Chinese social media site Weibo.

“Thank you media friends and every fan of Godfrey’s for their concern. His management and team were present and his family were urgently rushed to the location,” the statement continued. “Please respect Godfrey’s family in this time of sorrow and refrain from disturbing them. We will accompany Godfrey’s family to handle discreet funeral arrangements. Thank you, everyone.”

Gao was born in Taiwan and raised in Vancouver, Canada. In 2011, he became the first Asian male model for Louis Vuitton. That gig led to other roles including portraying Magnus Bane in 2012’s “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” and numerous other productions. The lead role in 2016’s “Remembering Lichuan” gave him greater recognition throughout Asia.

His leading-man looks and roles helped dispel notions that Asian men could not be seen as desirable or romantic leads.

Remy Hii, who starred in “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” called Gao’s death “a loss to us as a community of asian artist.”