The news reports will tell you he placed a mortar on his head and lit it. His mother stated he wouldn't hurt himself and his brother is pretty sure Staples did not intend to actually light the fuse. I'm inclined to believe them for two reasons.
1.) Staples was an actor. Creative people use a large portion of their energy playing "What if?" If they can catch others up in a collective reaction, all the better. More on that in a minute.
2.) When you watch the videos posted below -and I hope you do- you will see that he evidently took very good care of himself. His job, playing Gaston at Disney World in Orlando, entailed taking care of others as well. Dedication to that kind of work generally doesn't lead to self-destructive behavior.
So please, before you post another tired joke about thinning the herd and Darwinism in action, think about the fact that this was one stupid, tragic moment in an otherwise very good life. People who knew and loved him are going to miss him. Look at the videos of him at work. Gaston is one of the least charming, most hateful antagonists in the Disney canon and darned if almost everyone in those videos isn't smiling during and after their encounters with Devon Staples' version of him. Along with the discipline and talent, what makes it magic is having a gift for empathy and connection. Theatre is all about agreements between the performers and the audience. No matter what the duration or the venue, it takes trust that goes to the marrow .Want more proof he was the real deal? Those teeny girls in costumes knew a prince when they saw one. Maybe we should borrow some of their noblesse oblige and look at the bigger picture before we pass judgment.