The 54-year-old, who had the leading role in the show, had gone for a swim with actress Camila Pitanga in the Sao Francisco river in the state Sergipe, near where the series had been recording, after the day's shoot was finished.

Pitanga said Montagner was dragged away by the river's strong currents. Local authorities later recovered his body in the river, 300 metres (328 yards) from where he’d been swimming.

Local police chief Antonio Francisco Filho told news outlet O Globo the area was a notorious spot, saying, "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."

Montagner was born in Sao Paulo and became a TV actor in 2008 following a career with the circus. The soap opera began airing earlier this year (16). According to the BBC, in one episode Montagner's character, a farmer who often fights off local gunmen, appeared to drown in the same Sao Francisco river, but reappeared weeks later.

He had previously appeared in TV shows Brave Woman, The Enchanted Tale and Next in Line, and his most recent film Um Namorado Para Minha Mulher (A Boyfriend For My Wife) was released just weeks ago.

Montagner had been married to actress Luciana Lima for 14 years.