Jean-Marc Vallée, the director of the Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club and HBO hit show Big Little Lies, died Sunday at his home in Quebec City, Canada at the age of 58. Vallée’s publicist, Bumble Ward, confirmed the news to CNN, though a cause of death was not immediately available.
“He was a friend, creative partner and an older brother to me,” Nathan Ross, a partner in Vallée’s production company Crazyrose, said in a statement. “The maestro will sorely be missed but it comforts knowing his beautiful style and impactful work he shared with the world will live on.”
“What you may not know is that he was sweet and kind, full of gratitude, remembered birthdays and sent awesome mixtapes, while still being a creative genius,” Ward wrote on Twitter.
Vallée helmed numerous short films before his critically-acclaimed 1995 debut feature Liste Noir (Black List). While 2009’s The Young Victoria, a biopic about Queen Victoria, earned three Academy Award nominations, it was Vallée’s work on the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club that earned him international acclaim.
The film told the true story of Ron Woodruff, an AIDS patient in the 1980s who smuggled unapproved drugs in an attempt to treat the disease. It would go on to be both a critical and commercial success, garnering six Oscar nominations and three wins, including Best Actor for Matthew McConaughey and Best Supporting Actor for Jared Leto.
Vallée adapted the life of Cheryl Strayed, the author who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail on her own, for 2014’s Wild starring Reese Witherspoon. Witherspoon would go on to earn a Best Actress nomination alongside Laura Dern, who received a Best Supporting Actress nomination.
“They can move anywhere they want,” the filmmaker told the Associated Press in 2014 of his naturalistic style on Wild and other projects. “It’s giving the importance to storytelling, emotion, characters. I try not to interfere too much. I don’t need to cut performances. Often, the cinematographer and I were like, ‘This location sucks. It’s not very nice. But, hey, that’s life.”‘
In 2017, Vallée became both executive producer and director of Big Little Lies, the HBO show based on Liane Moriarty’s bestselling book centered around the denizens of an upper-class city involved in a murder investigation. Vallée helmed the entire first season of the show, which has gone on to win multiple Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series and, for Vallée, Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special. Sharp Objects with Amy Adams earned Vallée another Directors Guild of America award after Big Little Lies.
“I’m not pushing style and I’m not saying, ‘Hey, let’s aim for a style,’ and I’m not aiming for tone either,” Vallée told DGA Quarterly in 2019. “People ask me sometimes, ‘How did you manage to get this tone in your film?’ And I don’t think tone and style. I think emotion, storytelling, characters.”
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