The sudden death of 32-year-old Triangle of Sadness actress Charlbi Dean on Monday triggered a flood of shock, sadness, heartfelt condolences — and some absurd medical claims that her brother disputed Wednesday in an interview with Rolling Stone.
Speaking by phone from Cape Town, South Africa, Alex Jacobs says Dean was an incredible person on the cusp of her breakout moment The actress’ death at a New York hospital this week has stunned everyone who knew her.
So many questions still need answers, but one thing he feels sure about is that the flurry of online comments claiming Dean’s death was linked to Covid vaccines — messages he has seen and read himself — are not helpful.
“That is completely out of the question, from our point of view,” he tells Rolling Stone. “That’s not the first bandwagon you need to jump on. I think that’s completely ridiculous and extremely naïve.”
According to Jacobs, Dean was staying in New York with her fiancé, Luke Volker, when she started experiencing some “minor” symptoms that concerned her enough asked Volker to go with her to an emergency room. She then died in a matter of hours, Jacobs says, with the exact cause of her death still pending an autopsy that was underway Wednesday.
“This happened literally within the span of a day: getting a headache, going to sleep, waking up her boyfriend and saying please take me to the hospital,” Jacobs, 21, tells Rolling Stone.
“We still aren’t entirely sure (what happened). There’s an autopsy being done which we know might take quite a while. But what we have heard it that there was a viral infection in her lungs,” he says.
He adds that his sister was in a “very, very bad car accident” around 2009 that left her with a broken back, broken ribs and a missing spleen.
“They removed her spleen. It’s involved in fighting off infections, and that could have had something to do what happened. Her spleen not being there just added on to the reason whey she perhaps couldn’t fight it off,” he says.
The law student says his family is devastated by the loss.
“She was extremely caring and extremely loving, more than anyone I could have ever known. She reminded us every day how much she loved us. She spoke to my mom every single day of her life. If the call ended, she’d call her back immediately and say I didn’t get to say goodbye to you,” he says.
“This is quite shocking for us right now, having something like that happen. She was really the glue that kept us together,” he says, adding that he’s particularly worried about Volker.
“We love him so much,” he says. “I can’t imagine what it would have been like, being there. My mom’s biggest worry was that she was going to die alone. He was with her, as close as he could be.”
Jacobs says his sister was thrilled when Triangle of Sadness recently won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.
“She was so, so stoked about it, and we were really happy to support her,” he says. “It was incredible seeing her succeed.”
Along with Triangle of Sadness, the actress also was known for her recurring role in CW’s superhero series Black Lightning.
Born and raised in South Africa, Dean and her costars made headlines when Triangle of Sadness received an eight-minute standing ovation at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival before taking home the top prize.
In the social satire from writer-director Ruben Östlund, Dean portrays an aspiring model and influencer who wins a trip on a luxury superyacht and takes her model boyfriend (played by 26-year-old The Kingsman actor Harris Dickinson) as her plus-one. Co-star Woody Harrelson, 61, plays the yacht’s problematic captain presiding over temperamental guests, including a Russian oligarch and a British arms dealer.
On Wednesday, Aug. 31, Östlund shared a tribute to Dean on Instagram, writing, “Charlbi’s sudden passing is a shock and a tragedy. It is an honor to have gotten to know and work with her. Charlbi had a care and sensitivity that lifted her colleagues and the entire film crew. The thought that she will not be by our side in the future makes me very sad. At this difficult time, my thoughts go out to her loved ones, her family and her fiance Luke.”