Jean-Marc Vallée, the Canadian director behind such hits as Dallas Buyers Club, Big Little Lies, and Wild, died over the weekend at age 58.
The Oscar-nominated filmmaker was found deceased in his cabin outside Quebec City. His publicist confirmed that his passing was sudden and unexpected, but no additional details were available as of publication. Vallée had his first breakout success with 2005’s coming-of-age film C.R.A.Z.Y. which he wrote and directed, making a name for himself in Hollywood as a naturalistic director who often avoided artificial lighting, non-diegetic sound, and even rehearsals.
The director achieved significant critical success with his 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club, which was nominated for six Oscars and won three, earning a best actor win for Matthew McConaughey and best supporting actor for Jared Leto. He went on to direct another Oscar-nominated film, Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon, before turning his eye to acclaimed television shows such as Big Little Lies and Sharp Objects, both of which won and were nominated for numerous Emmy Awards.
In a 2021 Vanity Fair article, AIDS activist Peter Staley recalled that he put Vallée “through hell and back” when making Dallas Buyers Club, describing what V.F. called Staley’s “monthslong battle against homophobia and AIDS denialism.” But Staley wrote, “Jean-Marc Vallée deserves all the credit…he kept the promise he’d once emailed me: that in all his films, he tries to ‘capture humanity and reveal the beauty behind it.’”
Speaking of his body of work in a 2018 interview published by HBO and previously noted in The New York Times, Vallée said: “It’s true that my last projects were featuring mainly female characters. So, am I the lucky guy? Maybe—maybe I am. I’m not afraid of intelligent, strong women. You got to create a space where they’re going to feel respected and comfortable.” He went on to explain, “I’m reacting to what they’re doing, instead of being active and telling them, this is what I’ll do with the camera. I love it. You know, I’m like a kid on a set, a kid playing with a huge toy and having fun.”
At the time of his death, the filmmaker was starting work on a new show for HBO, Gorilla and the Bird, a limited series about a public defender who suffers a psychotic break.
Nathan Ross, Vallée’s producing partner, wrote in a statement following his passing: “Jean-Marc stood for creativity, authenticity and trying things differently. He was a true artist and a generous, loving guy. Everyone who worked with him couldn’t help but see the talent and vision he possessed. He was a friend, creative partner and an older brother to me. The maestro will sorely be missed but it comforts knowing his beautiful style and impactful work he shared with the world will live on.”
Vallée is survived by his two sons, Alex and Émile, and three siblings Marie-Josée Vallée, Stéphanie Tousignant, and Gérald Vallée.
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