Jean-Marc Vallée, the Canadian filmmaker behind films such as Dallas Buyers Club and Wild, as well as the HBO series Big Little Lies and Sharp Objects, has died at the age of 58.
Vallée died suddenly over the weekend in his cabin near Quebec City, according to The Hollywood Reporter. His cause of death was not immediately disclosed.
In a statement announcing his passing, Vallée’s longtime producer partner Nathan Ross wrote, “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.”
The Montreal native made his feature-length debut in 1995 with Black List, which earned nine nominations at Canada’s Genie Awards, including Best Motion Picture and Best Achievement in Direction. Due to the success of the film, Vallée moved to Los Angeles and directed the 1997 Western Los Locos and episodes of the TV series The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne. He earned further acclaim with the 2005 release of C.R.A.Z.Y., a coming-of-age film centered around a young gay man, which was selected as Canada’s official submission for the 2005 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The success of C.R.A.Z.Y. led Martin Scorsese to hire Vallée to helm the 2009 period drama The Young Victoria, starring Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, and Mark Strong. The film received three Academy Award nominations, winning in the category for Best Costume Design.
In 2013, Vallée directed Dallas Buyers Club, a film based on the true-life story of Ron Woodroof, a Texas electrician who was diagnosed with AIDS, given 30 days to live, and subsequently began smuggling alternative medicine and not-yet-approved drugs into the United States to aid himself and other AIDS patients. The film earned universal acclaim and six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing (which Vallée received under his alias John Mac McMurphy). Due to their performances in the film, Matthew McConaughey won the Oscar for Best Actor, and Jared Leto for Best Supporting Actor.
The following year, Vallée directed Wild, an adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s acclaimed memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, starring Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern, who were both later recognized with Oscar nominations.
In 2017, Vallée reunited with Witherspoon in the HBO series Big Little Lies, a murder mystery based on Liane Moriarty’s novel of the same name. With Vallée serving as director and executive producer, the series featured an ensemble cast led by Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, and Zoë Kravitz. The first season of Big Little Lies received 16 Primetime Emmy Award nominations and won eight, including Outstanding Limited Series, an Outstanding Directing award for Vallée, and acting awards for Kidman, Dern and Alexander Skarsgård.
Vallée passed on directing Season 2 of Big Little Lies in favor of another HBO production, Sharp Objects, starring Amy Adams and Patrica Clarkson. Based on Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name, the limited series went on to receive eight Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Limited Series and acting nominations for Adams and Clarkson.
Earlier this year, Vallée signed a first look deal with HBO that included an adaptation of Zack McDermott’s memoir Gorilla and the Bird. He had also been attached to an authorized biopic about John Lennon and Yoko Ono.