'Dallas Buyers Club' director Jean-Marc Vallee dies at 58

·3-min read

Award-winning Canadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallee has died at age 58, his publicist announced, shocking the industry and admirers who hailed him on Monday as a creative force.

Vallee took on compelling projects in multiple genres, from his work on "Dallas Buyers Club," an unflinching look at the AIDS crisis, to the small-screen HBO adaptation of "Big Little Lies," and was widely acknowledged as an exceptional talent.

"Rest In Peace, Jean-Marc Vallee. The world is far less interesting without you in it," his publicists Hive Communication Collective wrote late Sunday on Instagram.

Offering condolences to the director's friends and family on behalf of Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Vallee'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."

The Quebecois producer and director was Oscar-nominated for "Dallas Buyers Club" in 2013, for which actors Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto both took home Academy Awards.

In recent years, he has drawn acclaim for his work on HBO shows "Big Little Lies", for which he won an Emmy award, and "Sharp Objects".

US media reported that Vallee died suddenly in his cabin near Quebec City over the weekend. The cause was not immediately known.

HBO said it was "shocked at the news of his sudden death."

"Jean-Marc Vallee was a brilliant, fiercely dedicated filmmaker," the company said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Jean-Marc stood for creativity, authenticity and trying things differently," Vallee's producing partner Nathan Ross said in a statement shared with US media.

"The maestro will sorely be missed but it comforts knowing his beautiful style and impactful work he shared with the world will live on."

- 'Prodigious talent' -

His other notable works included the Oscar-winning 2009 film "The Young Victoria" starring Emily Blunt and "Wild" in 2014, for which Reese Witherspoon earned an Oscar nomination.

The latter -- based on author Cheryl Strayed's best-selling memoir -- premiered at the Toronto film festival, where Vallee slammed reviews that had mistakenly classified it.

"Chick flick my ass!" he said of the film that tells how, devastated by the death of her mother, Strayed self-destructs -- ruining her marriage, becoming hooked on heroin and even pregnant by a stranger -- before embarking on a 1,100-mile (1,800 kilometer) hike to find her way out of despair.

Witherspoon had described at the "Wild" screening how Vallee ordered the actors not to wear any makeup during filming, going as far as covering the mirrors in their on-set trailer. He also had her carry a heavy pack that she said "changed the way I walked" in scenes.

"My heart is broken," the actress tweeted Monday. "My friend. I love you."

Vallee embraced natural lighting and scorned rehearsals in a bid to create films that felt "real and authentic," he said in a 2018 interview released by HBO.

He sought to show equally humanity's flaws, transforming true stories into touching dramas, often with strong female leads.

Toronto film festival boss Cameron Bailey posted Monday that Vallee was "a prodigious talent" and the first to both open ("Demolition") and close ("The Young Victoria") North America's largest film festival.

"I'll miss his fire," he said.

Hive co-founder Bumble Ward, echoing numerous expressions of grief on social media, tweeted that in addition to his "creative genius," Vallee was also "sweet and kind, full of gratitude, remembered birthdays and sent awesome mixtapes."

In the director's home province of Quebec, Premier Francois Legault said news of Vallee's passing was "tragic" and that his films -- including his 2005 breakthrough coming-of-age drama "C.R.A.Z.Y." -- had moved him deeply.

"He was extremely kind," he added.

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