Montagner played the leading role the soap opera named after the Sao Francisco river, where he died. The 54-year-old had gone for a swim with an actress after a day of shooting in the north-eastern state of Sergipe.
She said he was dragged away by the river’s strong currents. The actress, Camila Pitanga, cried for help but local people failed to act initially as they believed the drowning was a scene in the soap opera.
According to the BBC, authorities said there was little that anyone could have done. In the soap opera, 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.