Director Jean-Marc Vallée, 58, died of 'heart attack on Christmas Day'

Tee-total fitness fanatic director of Dallas Buyers Club and Big Little Lies, Jean-Marc Vallée, 58, died of ‘heart attack on Christmas Day’ while alone at his Quebec log cabin

  • The filmmaker suddenly passed away at his cabin outside Quebec on Sunday
  • Vallee’s family and closest advisors were reportedly ‘shocked’ by the death
  • He was described as ‘a true artist and a generous loving guy’ by fellow producers
  • The filmmaker is best known for films such as Dallas Buyers Club and Wild along with HBO limited series’ Big Little Lies and Sharp Objects

Dallas Buyers Club and Big Little Lies director Jean-Marc Vallee reportedly died of a heart attack at his Quebec log cabin and is believed to have lost his life on Christmas Day.

The filmmaker likely died of heart failure on December 25 while preparing to receive guests the following day, multiple sources told Deadline.

Vallee won an Emmy for directing the hit HBO series Big Little Lies. His 2013 drama Dallas Buyers Club earned multiple Oscar nominations.

The filmmaker died suddenly in the cabin outside Quebec City, Canada over the weekend, according to his representative Bumble Ward. He said Vallee’s death had been unexpected. 

The 58-year-old Canadian was a fitness buff and a teetotaler, meaning he abstained from drugs and alcohol, according to Deadline. He also practiced the Wim Hoff fitness method, which involves ‘breathing exercises, meditation, and exposure to cold,’ according to its website.

Vallee’s family and close advisors are also reportedly ‘shocked’ by the death, with his producing partner Nathan Ross also confirming passing and paying tribute in a statement.

‘Jean-Marc stood for creativity, authenticity and trying things differently. He was a true artist and a generous, loving guy,’ Ross said. 

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

Vallee is survived by his two sons – Alex and Emile, whom he shares with ex-wife Chantal Cadieux, a Canadian playwright whom Vallee was married to for more than 15 years, from 1990 to 2006.

He is also survived by siblings Marie-Josee Vallee, Stephane Tousignant and Gerald Vallee. 

Jean-Marc Vallee died suddenly outside of his cabin in Quebec City, Canada over the weekend 

Jean-Marc Vallee and actor Matthew McConaughey attend the Universal, NBC, Focus Features, E! sponsored by Chrysler viewing and after party with Gold Meets Golden held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. Vallee received critical acclaim for his direction of the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club, starring McConaughey 

Director and producer Jean-Marc Vallee, 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 aged 58. 

The filmmaker was born in Montreal on March 19, 1963, and studied filmmaking at Quebec University.

He started his career directing music videos and short films in the late 1980s and early 1990s before making his feature film debut with Liste Noire in 1995, which was nominated for several Genie Awards in Canada, including for best picture. 

Vallee would go on to direct Los Locos in 1997 for writer-star Mario Van Peebles, Danny Trejo and Rene Auberjonois and 2005’s C.R.A.Z.Y. with Michel Cote and Marc-Andre Grondin, before breaking into the mainstream in 2009 with The Young Victoria, written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, starring Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend.

He next wrote and directed Cafe de Flore in 2011 starring Vanessa Paradis and Evelyne Brochu, before his Oscar-nominated drama Dallas Buyers Club in 2013. 

The film told the story of Ron Woodruff, an AIDS patient in the 1980s who smuggled unapproved drugs in an attempt to treat the disease.

The success of the movie, which featured Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto and earned six Academy Awards nominations, including best picture, made Vallee a sought-after name in Hollywood.

He developed a reputation for his naturalistic approach to filmmaking, and in the decade prior to his death directed stars including Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Vallee followed up Dallas Buyers Club with the 2014 adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild, starring Witherspoon and Laura Dern, before directing Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts in the 2015 film Demolition.

He then moved to the small screen, directing the first season of Big Little Lies in 2017, and all eight episodes of the critically-acclaimed HBO limited series Sharp Objects, starring Adams, winning Directors Guild of America awards for both.

He was set to direct and executive-produce another limited series for HBO, Gorilla and the Bird, based on a memoir of the same name about a public defender who suffers a psychotic break, according to the New York Times. 

 In a statement following his passing, HBO executives said: ‘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. 

‘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.’

Vallee broke into the mainstream in 2009 with The Young Victoria, written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, starring Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend (pictured)

Vallee moved to the small screen four years ago, directing the first season of Big Little Lies in 2017 starring Reese Witherspoon (pictured), and all eight episodes of the critically-acclaimed HBO limited series Sharp Objects, starring Amy Adams, winning DGA awards for both

He directed Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts in the 2015 film Demolition with Jake Gyllenhaal before moving to the small screen with the first season of Big Little Lies in 2017

Tributes for the late filmmaker have poured in, with the likes of the CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival Cameron Bailey taking to social media to share their memories and pay respects to Vallee

Vallee 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. 

‘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.”

And in a 2018 interview with the New York Times, Valle described his work as trying to expose the flaws and imperfections in human nature.

‘I see that I seem to be attracted to these stories and to underdog characters,’ he said at the time, adding: ‘The humanity, the beautiful humanity, is dark.’

Vallee’s representative Bumble Ward took to twitter to pay tribute to the late filmmaker

Writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Joshua Axelrod was among those who shared their tributes to Vallee on social media

Jean-Marc Vallee Filmography 

Director and producer Jean-Marc Vallee developed an acclaimed career as a filmmaker before transitioning to the little screen in 2017. 

He won an Emmy for directing the hit HBO series Big Little Lies from 2017-2019, and his 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club earned multiple Oscar nominations.

Below is a list of the late director’s filmography: 

Film

  • 1995: Black List
  • 1997: Los Locos
  • 1999: Loser Love
  • 2005: C.R.A.Z.Y.
  • 2009: The Young Victoria
  • 2011: Café de Flore
  • 2013: Dallas Buyers Club
  • 2014: Wild
  • 2015: Demolition 

 Television

  • 2017–2019: Big Little Lies
  • 2018: Sharp Objects

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