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.
His representative Bumble Ward said Sunday that Vallée died suddenly in his cabin outside Quebec City, Canada, over the weekend.
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.
He often shot with natural light and hand-held cameras and gave actors freedom to improvise 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.
“Jean-Marc Vallée was a brilliant, fiercely dedicated filmmaker, a truly phenomenal talent who infused every scene with a deeply visceral, emotional truth. He was also a hugely caring man who invested his whole self alongside every actor he directed,” HBO said in a statement to NBC News. “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.”
Ross, in his own statement to NBC News, said that his producing partner believed in creativity and authenticity, and in trying to do 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,” Ross said in the statement.
“The maestro will sorely be missed but it comforts knowing his beautiful style and impactful work he shared with the world will live on.”
AP Film Writer Jake Coyle contributed to this report.