Domingos Montagner has drowned in a river where the crew had been recording scenes for Brazil’s most popular soap opera, Velho Chico.
The 54-year-old played the leading role in Velho Chico, a soap opera named after the Sao Francisco River where he died.
One of Brazil’s best-loved TV actors, Domingos Montagner had gone for a swim with fellow actress Camila Pitanga after a day of shooting in the north-eastern state of Sergipe.
She said he was dragged away by the river’s strong currents.
Camila Pitanga cried for help but local people failed to act initially as they believed the drowning was a scene in the soap opera.
Authorities said there was little that anyone could have done.
In the soap opera, Domingos Montagner played a farmer who often fought off local gunmen. In one of those clashes, he was shot multiple times and appeared to drown in the same Sao Francisco River, but reappeared weeks later.
Police chief Antonio Francisco Filho told O Globo: “They thought they had chosen a safe spot to swim, but that is one of the most dangerous areas in the town of Caninde and usually avoided by locals.”
One person, on average, has drowned every year in the town since 2005, reports said.
Four hours after the incident, rescue teams found Domingos Montagner’s body underwater, some 984ft from where he drowned.
Domingos Montagner was born in Sao Paulo and had a career in the circus before becoming a TV actor, in 2008.
This was his 12th role on television. His first significant soap opera role was in 2011, and he had his film debut in 2012.
Domingos Montagner had been married for 14 years to actress Luciana Lima, with whom he had three children.
The news of the actor’s death has caused commotion in Brazil, where fellow actors and social media users have paid tributes to the actor.
The soccer team he supported, Corinthians, praised him also for his success as a handball player for the club’s affiliate in the 1980s.
Domingos Montgner’s latest film, Um Namorado Para Minha Mulher (A Boyfriend For My Wife), was released two weeks ago.