Actor Khan Bonfils, former Jedi master alongside Liam Neeson in Star Wars, died after collapsing during a rehearsal for an upcoming production Tuesday. Bonfils, 42, was in rehearsal for the opening of Dante’s Inferno: A Modern Telling, scheduled to open this week in east London at The Rag Factory when he collapsed days before opening night. Craft Theatre Company members immediately attempted to revive him until paramedics arrived on the scene. Medics attempted to resuscitate him but pronounced him dead when they could not revive him. The company tweeted Tuesday that he would be sorely missed.
Bonfils was a British-raised performer and actor. He attended the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. He was an avid martial artist and studied Wing Chun Kung Fu under Austin Goh. Since 2008, he was a practitioner of Yin Style Ba Gua Zhang.
Bonfils, affectionately known as Kan, appeared in many big movies including Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life as a guard, and several West End Stage productions. He starred in the 2012 James Bond movie Skyfall, as the henchman of Daniel Craig and 1997’s blockbuster Tomorrow Never Dies as Isaguru with Pierce Brosnan. In the Star Wars’ classic The Phantom Menace, he played Saesee Tiin, the Jedi master, opposite Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson. Tiin, a member of the Jedi High Council, later dies during an attempted apprehension of a villain. He played a member of the League of Shadows in 2005’s Batman Begins.
He performed the lead in the theatre production, The King & I, alongside Elaine Paige at the London Palladium. He performed the popular Miss Saigon at Drury Lane Theatre Royal London. He had a brief stint as a model before becoming an actor. Hermes, Michiko Kochino, and Oswald Boateng were just a few of the ones he modeled for prior to acting.
Craft Theatre spokesman, Chris Hislop, said that Rocky Rodriguez Jr immediately gave the Jedi, Khan Bonfils, CPR when he collapsed in rehearsal before being declared dead by paramedics. An ambulance was sent out in an attempt to save his life but he could not be revived. No cause of death has been confirmed according to Hislop. A statement was released by Craft Theatre expressing sadness and grief. Fellow cast mates and crew members were floored by the tragedy. The devastation of Bonfils’ death shocked the entire production company. According to Hislop, members were consoling each other in effort to keep everything together.
Play director Rocky Rodriguez Jr released in a statement that it was “difficult to stomach”. The statement, also posted on the company webpage, stated that the work would continue. The journey that Kan embarked with Craft Theatre would be finished.
Dante’s Inferno is still expected to continue on as planned despite the popular Jedi Khan Bonfils, dying during rehearsal according to Hislop. Ryan Prescott, an actor from the same production company, will be filling in the place of Bonfils and based upon his learning curve, the show would open on Saturday. The original opening date was pushed back from Thursday. Bonfils and Prescott were close friends reported People.
By Stevenson Benoit