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

Jean-Marc Vallée, award-winning Canadian director of the film “Dallas Buyers Club” and the HBO hit show “Big Little Lies”, was found dead this weekend in his cabin outside Quebec City . He was 58 years old.

His publicist, Bumble Ward, said his death was unexpected. Mr. Vallée was found Sunday by friends who were going to visit him, said Lieutenant Benoit Richard, spokesperson for the Police Department of the Sûreté du Québec. The cause and other details were not immediately available.

Mr. Vallée was known for his naturalistic and generous approach to filmmaking which his colleagues said brought out the best in those he worked with. He avoided artificial lighting – and even rehearsals. Mr. Vallée also became known for having directed several films and television series with strong female roles.

His first feature film, “Black List”, a 1995 thriller that follows a judge’s trial, was nominated for several Genie awards, the Canadian equivalent of the Oscar, including best film. Ten years later, he directed and co-wrote “CRAZY”, a coming-of-age film, the success of which catapulted him to Hollywood.

In 2009, Mr. Vallée directed “The Young Victoria”, starring Emily Blunt, who explored the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign. The film received several important awards and nominations.

He was best known for the critically acclaimed “Dallas Buyers Club” (2013), a drama based on the true story of Ron Woodroof, a Texas electrician and rodeo rider who, after being diagnosed with HIV in 1985, fought to obtain drugs (illegal in the United States at the time) for himself and others with the virus.

Matthew McConaughey, who played Mr. Woodroof, said he lost 50 pounds by ingesting only vegetables, egg whites, fish and tapioca pudding – and “as much wine as I wanted to drink”. Leto.

In a recent Vanity Fair article Adapted from the book “Never Silent: ACT UP and My Life in Activism”, activist Peter Staley recounted his long battle to ensure that homophobia and AIDS denial does not appear in the film. He said he had put Mr. Vallée through “hell and the return”, but that the director “had kept the promise he had once emailed me: that in all his films, he tries to “capture humanity and reveal the beauty behind it”. “

The following year, Mr. Vallée directed “Wild,” also 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 nomination for Best Actress.

“Big Little Lies” has won multiple Emmy Awards and a Directors Guild of America award. A cutting-edge story of violence and class in the wealthy seaside town of Monterey, California starring Ms. Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Zoë Kravitz, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, and Meryl Streep.

Mr. Vallée then directed the HBO miniseries “Sharp Objects”, set in a small town in Missouri, which starred Amy Adams as a struggling reporter. He 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. “So, am I the lucky one? Maybe – maybe I am. I am not afraid of smart and strong women. You need to create a space where they will feel respected and comfortable.

“We have pushed the boundaries in order to capture something that feels real and authentic,” he added. There were no storyboards, shot lists or reflectors used to make “sharp objects” as he preferred to let the actors express themselves.

“I’m reacting to what they’re doing, instead of being active and telling them, that’s what I’m going to do with the camera,” he said, adding, “I love it. You know, I’m like a kid on a set, a kid playing with a huge toy and having fun.

Mr. Vallée was born on March 9, 1963 in Montreal. He studied cinema at Collège Ahuntsic and at the University of Quebec in Montreal. He is survived by two sons, Alex Vallée and Emile Vallée, as well as his brothers and sisters Marie-Josée Vallée, Stéphane Tousignant and Gérald Vallée.

In a statement, Nathan Ross, production partner and close friend of Mr. Vallée, described him as a “true artist” who stood for “creativity, authenticity and trying things differently” and added: “It comforts to know his beautiful style and hard-hitting work he shared with the world will live.

Mr. Vallée was to direct and serve as executive producer of 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, Mr. Vallée described his work as an attempt to expose the flaws and imperfections of human nature.

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

Johnny Diaz contributed reporting.


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