Jean-Marc Vallée Dies: Director Of ‘Dallas Buyers Club,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ & ‘Sharp Objects’ Was 58; Heart Attack Believed To Be The Cause
UPDATE: Deadline is hearing from multiple sources that the shocking death of filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée resulted from a heart attack, while at his cabin on the river outside of Quebec City, where he was preparing to receive guests the following day. So it is considered likely he passed December 25 and was found the following morning. Vallée was known as a fitness fanatic and a teetotaler, a practitioner of the Wim Hoff fitness method, which is not for the faint of heart. We will update the official cause of death when it is released. Following Deadline’s reveal of the filmmaker’s sudden passing last night, there has been an outpouring of sorrow for Vallée, everyone from Big Little Lies and Wild star Reese Witherspoon to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Sad day.
PREVIOUSLY, DECEMBER 26, 8:20 PM PST: Jean-Marc Vallée has died suddenly at age 58. The Canadian writer, director, editor and producer won Emmy Awards and a DGA Award for Big Little Lies and was Oscar nominated for editing Dallas Buyers Club, the film that won Oscars for both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto and was up for Best Picture.
I am still gathering details but can divulge that he passed away at his cabin outside Quebec City and that his family and close advisers are in shock.
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Born on March 9, 1963, in Montreal, Vallée began making short films and soon moved into features with his 1995 debut Black List. His breakthrough came with 2005’s C.R.A.Z.Y., which won four Genie Awards in Canada, including Best Picture, Screenplay and Director for Vallée. After directing The Young Victoria and Cafe de Flore, Vallée really hit his stride with Dallas Buyers Club, based on the true-life tale of Ron Woodroof, a Texas electrician who was diagnosed with AIDS and given a month to live.
The scrappy Woodroof smuggled alternative medicine and drugs that were not approved in the U.S., to help give himself and others suffering from AIDS a chance to prolong their lives. This was a worthy project that stalled before Vallée committed. Released in 2013 with McConaughey, Leto and Jennifer Garner starring, the film became a critical darling. Both McConaughey and Leto won Golden Globe Awards, and they repeated those wins at the Oscars, where the film was nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, with Vallée also receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Film Editing under his alias, John Mac McMurphy.
He followed with an adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild, which starred Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern. The film was nominated for three Oscars.
Then, Vallée turned his attention to longform television series, and the results were seminal.
In 2017 Vallée received the DGA Award and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for the HBO limited series Big Little Lies, which he also executive produced. It won eight Emmys including Outstanding Limited Series and four Golden Globes. He also directed and executive produced the 2018 HBO limited series Sharp Objects, which was nominated for eight Emmys.
Said his producing partner Nathan Ross: “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.”
“Jean-Marc Vallée was a brilliant, fiercely dedicated filmmaker, a truly phenomenal talent who infused every scene with a deeply visceral, emotional truth,” HBO said in a statement. “He was also a hugely caring man who invested his whole self alongside every actor he directed. We are shocked at the news of his sudden death, and we extend our heartfelt sympathies to his sons, Alex and Émile, his extended family, and his longtime producing partner, Nathan Ross.”
Vallée is survived by his sons, Alex and Émile, and siblings Marie-Josée Vallée, Stéphane Tousignant and Gérald Vallée.