Acclaimed movie and television writer-director Jean-Marc Vallée has died suddenly at the age of 58. The Canadian filmmaker, who’s best known for helming the Oscar-winning 2013 biographical drama, Dallas Buyer’s Club, died yesterday at his cabin outside of Quebec City, according to Deadline. His representative, Bumble Ward, confirmed the news.
Vallée, who also garnered success as an editor and producer, is survived by his sons, Alex and Émile, and siblings Marie-Josée Vallée, Stéphane Tousignant and Gérald Vallée. The filmmaker’s family and close collaborators are reportedly in shock over his death.
Nathan Ross, who was Vallée’s producing partner, has already publicly commented on the latter’s death, however. The producer stated: “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.”
Hailing from Montreal, Vallée launched his filmmaking career by making music videos and short films in his native Canada. He soon moved into feature films with his 1995 helming debut, Black List. His breakthrough came with the 2005 coming-of-age drama, C.R.A.Z.Y., which he penned, directed and produced.
Vallée went on to garner international recognition when he helmed and edited Dallas Buyers Club. The 2013 biopic, which won the Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards and SAG Awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, respectively, is based on the true life tale of Ron Woodroof.
Dallas Buyers Club chronicles Woodroof’s life after he was diagnosed with AIDS in the mid-1980s and given a month to live. After receiving the shocking diagnosis, the Texas electrician smuggled alternative medicine and drugs that weren’t approved in the U.S. into the country. He was determined to help himself and other people suffering from the disease a chance to prolong their lives.
A year after Dallas Buyers Club‘s distribution, Vallée released another acclamed biopic, Wild, which he directed and edited. Reese Witherspoon garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of Cheryl Strayed in the screen adaptation of the writer’s 2012 memoir of the same name.
While discussing the process of shooting Wild during a 2014 interview with The Associated Press, the filmmaker noted that he often shot his projects with natural light and hand-held cameras. He also gave his actors the freedom to improvise and move around within a scene’s location. The drama was shot on location throughout the Pacific Coast Trail.
The actors “can move anywhere they want,” Vallée said about his cast. “It’s giving the importance to storytelling, emotion, characters. I try not to interfere too much. I don’t need to cut performances.”
Following the distribuion of Wild in 2014, the filmmaker then turned his attention to longform television series. In 2017, Vallée reunited with Witherspoon for the HBO Limited Series, Big Little Lies, which he helmed, executive produced and edited. He was recognized for his work as the show’s helmer by receiving the DGA Award and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing.
Vallée then went on to helm and executive produce another HBO limited series, Sharp Objects, which aired the following year. The show was nominated for eight Emmys, including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for lead star Amy Adams.