Reports broke on Saturday that two actors on Netflix's series adaptation of writer Mark Millar and artist Peter Gross' comic book series American Jesus were killed and six cast/crew members from the streaming series were injured in a van crash. With the independent production company working in the nearby Santa Rosalia area, the accident took place near Mulege on the Baja California Sur peninsula in Mexico as the victims were in transit to the local airport. The Baja California Department of Culture would confirm that Raymundo Garduño Cruz and Juan Francisco González Aguilar (professional name, Paco Mufote) were the names of the deceased and that those injured were in stable condition. Production company Redrum would then announce that it had temporarily paused production.
This weekend, The Daily Beast posted an update reporting on two individuals allegedly close to the production who are demanding an investigation into what they say are accusations that the show's crew was exploited to save production costs. "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," Liliana Conlisk Gallegos, an artist & friend of Mufote who spoke to The Daily Beast. "It fills me with rage that there are reports of abuse and exploitation being shared by people involved with the production. 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."
And while Gallegos isn't making specific accusations in the tragedy, her past experience with productions that involve independent film companies are ones where they're looking to stretch every dollar possible. "I have worked in production in the US when independents are penny pinching all the way. They function independently and then sell the work to the bigger houses of production. That way they can turn a blind eye to labor abuses," she added. "I really wanna make it a point to say that this is a real issue that is global and it is parallel to that issue of outsourcing. We can see parallel forms of abuse and exploitation. At this point we don't know much. All we want is answers. I am not accusing Netflix of anything. I just demand that there is further investigation."
In a Facebook post on Friday, novelist Rick Zazueta accused the Mexican film industry & producers of putting profits over lives and demanded an investigation. "For weeks now people close to this production know that the logistics have been terrible. The actors have not stopped complaining about how poorly they are being treated specifically in the subject of transport and logistics" Zazueta alleges in the post. And the novelist holds the streaming services responsible, also. "Netflix also has blood on its hands, the billionaire company chose to work outside the ANDA actors union and made the contract with the now culprits of these deaths – Everardo Gout and Stacy Perskie," Zazueta argues. He added, "People coming to Baja California to exploit natural and human resources and do nothing but inflate their wallets, egos and portfolios. Today production has not released any report, but it is known that Netflix has already sent its insurers and licensed to Baja California Sur to see how they will cover themselves and look for a lower grade scapegoat." Here's a look at the test of the full post:
DISGRACE in NETFLIX Production "American Jesus," in Baja California South – This is a call to the authorities to investigate the death of two Baja California talents, Paco Mufote and Raymundo Garduño – Their death is a tragedy not only p or stealing this talent, but mainly because these deaths have culprits. For weeks now people close to this production know that the logistics have been terrible. The actors have not stopped complaining about how poorly they are being treated specifically in the subject of transport and logistics. Locations in Santa Rosalia, Loreto and San Ignacio, flights from La Paz and Tijuana, old panels with flat tires, tired and over-exploited drivers – Places with hundreds of kilometers in between that must be treated with respect, knowledge to and sanity that those of us who know Baja California bestowed him, the actors transported like cattle to save themselves a few pesos. This production should be shut down immediately – its producer Stacy Perskie and director Everardo Gout should be formally prosecuted.
Shame on the Mexican film industry, Everardo Gout and Stacy Perskie must face it and not hide behind casting director Luis Rosales – who was coldly asked to give the news of the passing to the families of these great actors. We cannot make the mistake of letting this happen, we cannot allow the death of these gentlemen to be in vain. The film industry has to change, we have paid a very high price once again in this country but we have to uphold the rights of the deceased.
Netflix also has blood on its hands, the billionaire company chose to work outside the ANDA actors union and made the contract with the now culprits of these deaths – Everardo Gout and Stacy Perskie. People coming to Baja California to exploit natural and human resources and do nothing but inflate their wallets, egos and portfolios. Today production has not released any report, but it is known that Netflix has already sent its insurers and licensed to Baja California Sur to see how they will cover themselves and look for a lower grade scapegoat. On his part, the internal war begins to look for who and how much is going to pay to cover up this disgrace, as if human life could be covered so easily.
Friends who are still working on this production – "American Jesus" Actors and Crew – unite, now is the time to stop everything. We are mourning, mourning, but most of all, we are angry – we can not let Everardo Gout and Stacy Perskie get away with it, do not be deceived if you do not give the name and surname of the perpetrators, tomorrow can be any of ust edes – facts speak more than a thousand words- nothing Everardo Gout or Stacy Perskie say is credible as they are instruments of pain, suffering and death.
First announced in 2017, Netflix's The Chosen One is described by the streaming service as following "a twelve-year-old boy who suddenly discovers he's returned as Jesus Christ. He can turn water into wine, make the crippled walk, and, perhaps, even raise the dead! How will he deal with the destiny to lead the world in a conflict, thousands of years in the making?" The series is based on the comic book series by Millar and Gross, first released in 2004 under the name "Chosen"- one of the first in a wave of comic book titles under the Millarworld. The title would go on the be renamed American Jesus, with the follow-up series American Jesus: The New Messiah released between 2019 and 2020. Everardo Gout and Leopoldo Gout serve as co-showrunners, with Gout set to direct. Production on the project began in April 2022, with Millar offering DH an update on the series back in May. "The development for 'American Jesus' is coming along beautifully in the talented and capable hands of Everardo Gout and Leopoldo Gout. I'm blown away by the creative choices that Netflix has allowed us, and particularly since this series will feature Spanish and English dialogue," he updated.