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

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

His publicist, Bumble Ward, said his death was unexpected. He did not provide the cause or other details.

Born in Canada, Mr. Vallée was known for his naturalistic and generous approach to cinema which, according to his colleagues, brought out the best in those with whom he worked. He avoided artificial lighting; he even avoided repetitions. He also became known for directing several films and TV 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 the 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. He has received several important awards and nominations.

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

Matthew McConaughey, who played Mr Woodroof, said he lost 50 pounds for the role by ingesting only vegetables, egg whites, fish and tapioca pudding – and “as much wine as I wanted to drink “. “Dallas Buyers Club” has been nominated for six Oscars and won three, including Best Actor for Mr. McConaughey and Best Supporting Actor for Jared Leto.

In a Vanity Fair article adapted from “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 world. movie. He said he put Mr. Vallée through “hell and back”. But he said the director “kept the promise he once emailed to me that in all of 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 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 tale of violence and class in the wealthy seaside town of Monterey, Calif. 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 featured mainly 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 weren’t any storyboards, shot lists or reflectors used to make “sharp objects,” he said, as he preferred to let the actors speak.

“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” and added: “It is comforting to know that his magnificent style and hard-hitting work that he shared with the world will live. “

Mr. Vallée was to direct and serve as executive producer of “Gorilla and the Bird,” an HBO limited series based on the memoir of the same name about a public defender suffering 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 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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