LOS ANGELES — Director and producer Jean-Marc Vallée, who won an Emmy for directing the hit HBO series Big Little Lies and whose 2013 drama Dallas Buyers Club earned multiple Oscar nominations, has died. He was 58.
Vallée died suddenly in his cabin outside Quebec City, Canada, over the weekend, his representative Bumble Ward said Sunday.
Vallée was acclaimed for his naturalistic approach to filmmaking, directing stars including Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal over the past decade.
He directed Emily Blunt in 2009’s The Young Victoria and became a sought-after name in Hollywood after Dallas Buyers Club, featuring Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, earned six Academy Awards nominations, including best picture.
“With a gentle hand and 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,” tweeted McConaughey, one of several stars paying tribute to Vallée on Monday.
Vallée often shot with natural light and hand-held cameras, giving actors freedom to improvise from the script and move around within a scene’s location. The crew roamed up and down the Pacific Coast Trail to shoot Witherspoon in 2014’s Wild.
“They can move anywhere they want,” the Canadian filmmaker said of his actors in a 2014 interview with the Associated Press. “It’s giving the importance to storytelling, emotion, characters. I try not to interfere too much. I don’t need to cut performances. Often, the cinematographer and I were like, ‘This location sucks. It’s not very nice. But, hey, that’s life.’ ”
He re-teamed with Witherspoon to direct the first season of Big Little Lies in 2017, and directed Adams in 2018’s Sharp Objects, also for HBO. Vallée won DGA awards for both.
“I will always remember you as the sun goes down,” Witherspoon wrote on Instagram along with a series of photos of the director. “Chasing the light. On a mountain in Oregon. On a beach in Monterey. Making sure we all caught a little magic in this lifetime. I love you, Jean Marc. Until we meet again.”
Her Big Little Lies co-star Laura Dern on Instagram called Vallée a “beloved friend” who was “one of our great and purest artists and dreamers.”
Leto said on Twitter he was “a filmmaking force and a true artist who changed my life.”
And Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that “Jean-Marc Vallée’s passion for filmmaking and storytelling was unmatched — so too was his talent. Through his work and with his art, he left a mark in Quebec, across Canada, and around the world.”