Jean-Marc Vallée has died suddenly at age 58. The Canadian writer, director, editor and producer won Emmy Awards and a DGA Award for Big Little Lies, and was Oscar nominated for directing Dallas Buyers Club, the film that won Oscars for both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. I am still gathering details, but can divulge that he passed away at his cabin outside Quebec City, and that his family and close advisors are in shock.
Hailing from Montreal, Quebec, Vallée began making short films and soon moved into features with his 1995 debut Black List, and his breakthrough came with C.R.A.Z.Y., which won four Genie Awards in Canada, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Director for Vallée. After directing The Young Victoria and Cafe de Flore, Vallée really hit his stride with Dallas Buyers Club. Based on the true life tale of Ron Woodroof, a Texas electrician who was diagnosed with AIDS and given a month to live. The scrappy Woodroof smuggled alternative medicine and drugs that were not approved in the U.S., to help himself and others suffering from AIDS a chance to prolong their lives. This was a worthy project that stalled before Vallée committed. Released in 2013 with McConaughey, Leto and Jennifer Garner starring, the film became a critical darling. Both McConaughey and Leto won Golden Globe Awards, and they repeated those wins at the Oscars, where the film was nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, with Vallée also receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Film Editing under his alias, John Mac McMurphy.
He followed with an adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild, which starred Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern. The film was nominated for three Oscars.
Then, Vallée turned his attention to longform television series, and the results were seminal.
In 2017 Vallée received the DGA Award and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for the HBO Limited Series Big Little Lies, which he also executive produced. In total the series won eight Emmys and four Golden Globes. He also directed and executive produced the HBO limited series Sharp Objects, which was nominated for eight Emmys.
Said producing partner Nathan Ross, “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.”
Vallée is survived by his sons, Alex and Émile, and siblings Marie-Josée Vallée, Stéphane Tousignant and Gérald Vallée.
“Jean-Marc Vallée was a brilliant, fiercely dedicated filmmaker, a truly phenomenal talent who infused every scene with a deeply visceral, emotional truth,” HBO said in a statement. “He was also a hugely caring man who invested his whole self alongside every actor he directed. We are shocked at the news of his sudden death, and we extend our heartfelt sympathies to his sons, Alex and Émile, his extended family, and his longtime producing partner, Nathan Ross.”