The late Godfrey Gao was honoured during the Oscars 2020’s In Memoriam tribute yesterday (Feb 10).
As the lights dimmed around the theatre, singer Billie Eilish took to the stage to perform a cover of The Beatles' 'Yesterday'. As she sang, the big screen behind her showed a montage of stars and other showbiz luminaries we lost in 2019, including Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas, NBA star Kobe Bryant, American actress Doris Day and Godfrey.
Godfrey was no stranger to Western audiences. In 2011, he was announced as the face for Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer campaign, making him the first Asian model to star in a campaign for the luxury brand.
In 2013, he made his Hollywood debut in the YA movie The Mortal Instruments: City of Bone, playing the warlock Magnus Bane.
The tribute marked the late star's first appearance in the awards show and it was a bittersweet moment, to say the least.
After the show, Godfrey’s pal, former Taiwanese basketball star James Mao posted on Instagram a screen grab of the tribute, writing: “Always missing you”, along with the hashtags “#thankyou #oscars #legend #youdeserveeveryhonour #stillnotfair”. Godfrey was set to be one of the groomsmen for James’s wedding last year but he passed away just two days before the big day.
Godfrey’s girlfriend Bella Su also posted series of pictures of the televised tribute on her Instagram Story. Unlike James, she did not add a caption to her posts, choosing to let a series of emojis do the talking for her.
Godfrey passed away on November 27 last year, after suffering from sudden cardiac arrest while filming the Chinese reality show Chase Me in Ningbo, China. In the weeks following his passing, many of Godfrey’s celebrity friends honoured the model-actor in their own way, from throwing a Christmas party with the late star's father in attendance, to wearing a suit Godfrey had customised as a gift.