Jean-Marc Vallée, director of the “Dallas Buyers Club”, dies at 58

Jean-Marc Vallée, the award-winning Canadian director behind the film “Dallas Buyers Club” and HBO’s hit show “Big Little Lies,” who was known for his naturalistic and generous approach that brought out the best in those he with. was working, was found dead this weekend in his cabin outside Quebec. He was 58 years old.

His death was confirmed by his publicist, Bumble Ward, who said that it was unexpected. No further details were immediately available.

Mr. Vallée studied cinema at Collège Ahuntsic and at the University of Quebec in Montreal. His first feature film, “Black List,” a 1995 thriller that follows a judge’s trial, was nominated for several Genie Awards in Canada, including Best Picture. He then co-wrote and directed “CRAZY,” a coming-of-age movie, in 2005. It helped catapult him to Hollywood. In 2009, Mr. Vallée directed “The Young Victoria”, starring Emily Blunt and exploring the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign. The film received several important awards and nominations.

He faced off against the critically acclaimed “Dallas Buyers Club” in 2013, a drama based on the true story of Ron Woodroof, a Texan electrician and rodeo rider. After being diagnosed with HIV in 1985, the Texan fought to obtain drugs (illegal in the United States at the time) for himself and others infected with the virus.

Matthew McConaughey lost a lot of pounds to play Mr. Woodroof, and the film was nominated for six Oscars, winning three, including Best Actor for Mr. McConaughey and Best Supporting Actor for Jared Leto.

The following year, Mr. Vallée directed “Wild,” another film based on a true story, starring Reese Witherspoon as author Cheryl Strayed on a solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. This film was also nominated for several major awards, including an Oscar for Best Actress.

Mr. Vallée has been the head of several films and television series with strong female stars, including “Big Little Lies”, starring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Zoë Kravitz, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley and Meryl Streep. The show, a sharp tale of violence and class in the wealthy seaside town of Monterey, Calif., Has won multiple Emmy Awards and another from the Directors Guild of America.

He later took viewers into the world of small town Missouri with the series “Sharp Objects,” which starred Amy Adams as a struggling reporter, and was nominated for eight Emmy Awards.

“It’s true that my last projects mainly featured female characters,” said Mr. Vallée in an interview published by HBO in 2018. “We pushed the boundaries in order to capture something that feels real and authentic,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to put style above storytelling and emotion in series.

He added that there were no storyboards, shot lists or reflectors used to make the show, as he preferred to let the actors speak. “I react to what they’re doing, instead of being active, and I tell them, that’s what I’m going to do with the camera,” he said.

He was also known to avoid artificial lighting – and even rehearsals.

Mr. Vallée was born on March 9, 1963 in Montreal. Two sons, Alex Vallée and Emile Vallée; and his brothers and sisters Marie-Josée Vallée, Stéphane Tousignant and Gérald Vallée survive him.

In a statement, Nathan Ross, a production partner and close friend of Mr. Vallée, described him as a “true artist” who stood for “creativity, authenticity and trying things differently.”

“The maestro will be sadly missed,” he said, adding, “It is heartwarming to know that his magnificent style and hard-hitting work that he has shared with the world will live on.”

Mr. Vallée had to direct and produce another show for HBO, “Gorilla and the Bird”, a limited series based on a memoir of the same name about a public defender who suffers from a psychotic crisis.

In an interview with The New York Times in 2018, he described his work as an attempt to expose the flaws and imperfections of human nature.

“I see that I seem to be drawn to these stories and the overlooked characters,” said Vallée. He added: “Humanity, beautiful humanity, is dark.”

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