Adan Canto Honored in Cleaning Lady Premiere: EPs Explain How His Death Changed an ‘Arman-Driven’ Season

The recent loss of actor Adan Canto was acutely felt during The Cleaning Lady’s Season 3 premiere.

Canto, who co-starred as Arman Morales on the Fox drama, passed away in January after a battle with appendiceal cancer, and Tuesday’s season opener ended with a tribute card that read, “This season is dedicated to our beloved friend Adan Canto.”

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But the ultimate fate of Canto’s on-screen alter ego was left a mystery for the moment: At the top of the hour, Arman was involved in a potentially deadly shootout that unfolded when a drug deal went awry, but Thony and Nadia were forced to speed away from the incident before they could tell whether Arman had gotten shot. (As co-showrunners Jeannine Renshaw and Miranda Kwok detail below, “Hollywood magic” was used for Arman’s fleeting appearance in the episode, as Canto was not actually on set.)

Thony and Nadia spent the rest of the episode searching for Arman, leading them to a dangerous cartel with which Arman’s estranged aunt and uncle (played by Kate del Castillo and Santiago Cabrera) are involved — but his whereabouts remained unknown by the end of the hour. (Check out the new Season 3 preview above for a glimpse at what’s ahead in subsequent episodes.)

Below, Renshaw and Kwok open up about losing Canto ahead of the season, how they accommodated his real-life health trouble behind the scenes, and why we shouldn’t be so quick to assume what will become of Arman.

TVLINE | Adan’s death came as a massive shock to everyone when it was first reported — but when the news broke, you’d already been in production on the new season, and it seemed the show was accounting for at least a temporary absence on his part. Can you speak to when you learned about Adan’s health struggles, and when it became clear you’d need to adjust the new episodes?
KWOK | We are all so devastated to lose Adan. He was such an important member not only of the cast, but of our family. It was quite a struggle for us to deal with this year, in many ways. As people know, Adan is also very private, and he did not want to speak about the details around things. We definitely made sure to make room for him, so that if he was able to come back, we created space for him. We had to, of course, pivot when we found out he may not be able to join us. So there are actually several episodes where we’re searching for Arman, and we were hoping that we would ultimately be able to bring him back on the show. Unfortunately, we were not able to do that, but in terms of the season, it was really important for us to honor him as a person and also him as a character, and what he meant to the show, and what he meant to fans. It was very carefully thought out and discussed so that we could tell the best story we could that would also honor him and allow our other characters to process his absence.
RENSHAW | It was a dialogue with him the whole time about how he was and how he was feeling. We originally crafted the season around him. It was an Arman-driven season anyway. And when we first heard he was struggling and having treatment, we wanted to make sure we had a story crafted — like Miranda’s saying — where he could join us at any time and we could open it up for him. We had it all planned to welcome him back at the end of the season. It was so sad for all of us and a very, very tragic moment, but we also felt we honored him in a really nice way. All of the crew and the other actors really got a chance to process it, and hopefully the audience will get that chance, as well.

TVLINE | I was surprised to see Arman make a very brief appearance at the start of the premiere, in that shootout on the tarmac. Was Adan on set for any of that, or was it Hollywood magic?
RENSHAW | It was Hollywood magic.
KWOK | Yeah. But we wanted it to be brief so that we could have the essence of him without going too far.
RENSHAW | And he was along on the process. He was aware of the story we were telling and was kind of honored to have the season still revolve around him with the option of him coming back. So it was him, but it was not him on the set.

TVLINE | The episode ends without telling us what happened to Arman, but we saw in a previous Season 3 trailer that Nadia is crying as a body bag is getting zipped up. Should we make the obvious assumption about Arman’s fate?
KWOK | Well, that we cannot tell you, for sure. [Laughs]
RENSHAW | We can’t tell you!

TVLINE | That’s fair!
KWOK | Definitely a spoiler.
RENSHAW | But there will be many twists and turns along the way! That’s what we can tell you.

Want scoop on The Cleaning Lady, or for any other TV show ? Email, and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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