Jean-Marc Vallée, the Canadian director best known for his work on Matthew McConaughey drama Dallas Buyers Club, has died aged 58.
Vallée’s representative, Bumble Ward, said he died suddenly over the weekend in his cabin outside Quebec City. His two sons survive him.
Vallée was a director who attracted high-profile stars, seeking projects in which they could demonstrate their unvarnished acting chops – which often paid dividends during awards seasons. He frequently shot his films using exclusively natural light and on hand-held cameras, allowing his cast unusual freedom to block a scene as they chose.
“They can move anywhere they want,” he said of his actors in 2014. “It’s giving the importance to storytelling, emotion, characters. I try not to interfere too much.”
Dallas Buyers Club was nominated for six Oscars in 2014, winning three, including best actor for McConaughey – who played a rodeo cowboy with Aids who smuggles an unlicensed drug into the US that can help patients live longer – and for supporting actor Jared Leto.
Vallée followed that film with Wild, based on Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 backpacking memoir and starring Reese Witherspoon, with whom he reteamed on the first season of Big Little Lies in 2017.
Other films include The Young Victoria, a royal biopic starring Emily Blunt, from 2009; Demolition, a study in grief with Jake Gyllenhaal, from 2015; and the TV series Sharp Objects, starring Amy Adams, from 2018.
Vallée won a Director’s Guild of America award for Sharp Objects, as well as for his work on Big Little Lies.
On Twitter, McConaughey posted a picture of them both smiling, saying: “With a gentle hand and a heart Jean-Marc was a true receiver - he didn’t romanticize life so much as he saw life romantic - from the struggle to the pain to the wink and the whisper, love stories were everywhere in his eye.”
Ward expressed her shock on Twitter, calling the director “sweet and kind, full of gratitude. [He] remembered birthdays and sent awesome mixtapes, while still being a creative genius. Rest In Peace.”
Vallée’s producing 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.”