This 35-year-old Taiwanese-Canadian model and actor mysteriously passed away, dropping dead of a reported heart attack despite being apparently in perfect health just days before.
Godfrey Gao was filming a Chinese reality TV show called Chase Me when he collapsed. After being rushed to the hospital, doctors were unable to do much, and he passed just three hours later.
You might not know Godfrey Gao’s name, but there is a good chance you know his face. Gao made big news in the fashion world when he was the first Asian man to model for designer brand Louis Vuitton.
He found great success with the brand and headlined several major campaigns for them.
He was signed by JetStar Entertainment in the early 2000s after he moved to Taiwan following his graduation from Capilano University in Vancouver. His acting career picked up just a few years later.
In 2006, he was featured in minor roles of various Chinese dramas, but by 2010 Gao had landed the leading role in Volleyball Lover, an idol-drama that followed two long-time friends joining a volleyball team and falling in love.
In 2013, he broke into US movies with his role as Magnus Bane in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. His role in the 2016 drama Remembering Lichuan gave him the nickname of the “nation’s husband” in China.
Throughout his time in the media, Gao never once had any major scandals–no shady stories about being an opiate addict, no need for a questionable stuffy nose remedy. (You know why celebrities need that, don’t pretend you don’t)
One mourning costar called him a “gentleman,” and he seemed to be one, too.
This is Gao with Adam Sandler at a basketball court, an image he shared just a week ago on his social media. He joked that he almost got “heat stroke” playing with Sandler, but he had a great time with the comedic hero.
Fans were quick to speculate on if he was working on a deal with Sandler to star in an upcoming movie, but now we may never know.
According to a statement released by JetStar, Gao was filming a reality TV show in China when he collapsed.
He was specifically filming an episode of Chase Me, a Chinese variety show that pits regular people against celebrities in a series of challenges or tests. This reality TV show format is very popular, and there is a similar one called Running Man in Korea.
Only three episodes of the reality had been broadcast so far, which doesn’t bode well for the show. Producers say that they are “extremely distressed and extremely sad” about Gao’s passing, and wish for fans to give peace and space to the family while they “properly handle the aftermath.”
In their version of events, Gao “fell down the stairs” while running and was immediately rushed to the hospital. It seems it was a heart attack.
According to at least one report coming out of China, officials are looking closer at how Chase Me is being filmed, questioning whether stars are being asked to do too much during their time on the show. At least one other star previously on an episode reported being “uncomfortable,” though to what extent isn’t clear.
Gao was unmarried, and had no children. He was set to be a groomsman last weekend for a friend.
This was an interview asking Godfrey what he wants to do at the end of 2019: “Hope to rest a bit and see my family. I haven’t seen them in a long while because filming lasts a long time. I hope to see them and have a meal and then have some fun. #godfreygao #RIPGodfreyGao pic.twitter.com/EdSYXM47tW
— 38jiejie.com (@38jiejie) November 27, 2019
Rest in peace, China’s husband.