Sad news: Canadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée unexpectedly died on Christmas Day following a heart attack at his cabin outside Quebec City in Canada. The director was 58 years old.
Following the filmmaker’s sudden passing, there has been an outpouring of grief, from actors such as Laura Dern and Emily Blunt to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“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. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and fans as they mourn his sudden passing,” Trudeau posted on Twitter.
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. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and fans as they mourn his sudden passing.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) December 27, 2021
Deadline, which broke this untimely news on December 26, reported that Vallée was known as “a fitness fanatic and a teetotaler, a practitioner of the Wim Hoff fitness method, which is not for the faint of heart.”
Born on March 9, 1963, in Montreal, Quebec, Vallée got his start directing Canadian music videos and short films, before making his 1995 feature debut with the French-language film Liste noire — Black List. making short films and soon moved into features with his 1995 debut Black List. In 2005, Vallée had his first hit with C.R.A.Z.Y., which won four Genie Awards — given out annually by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television to recognize the best of Canadian cinema from 1981-2012 — including Best Picture, Screenplay, and Director for Vallée.
Vallée first hit it big in the U.S with 2013’s Dallas Buyers Club, a film based on the true-life tale of Ron Woodroof, a Texas electrician diagnosed with AIDS and given a month to live. A leading figure in experimental AIDS treatment, Woodroof smuggled unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas to treat symptoms, and distribute the medicine to fellow AIDS patients while facing fierce opposition from the Food and Drug Administration.
The project was actually stalled before Vallée committed, according to Deadline. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won Golden Globe Awards and Oscars where the film was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing under Vallée’s alias, John Mac McMurphy.
Vallée followed that movie with a screen interpretation of the autobiographical Wild, which starred Dern and an Oscar-nominated Reese Witherspoon. Witherspoon was hit especially hard as she was close to the director after appearing in two Vallée-helmed projects.
“My heart is broken. My friend. I love you,” Witherspoon posted on Twitter.
My heart is broken. My friend. I love you. https://t.co/dvh63E8K7I
— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) December 27, 2021
Vallée reunited with Witherspoon for the 2017 HBO mini-series Big Little Lies, for which he won two Emmys for his direction and executive production, contributing to the eight total Emmys won by the show.
He also directed and executive produced the 2018 HBO limited series Sharp Objects, which was nominated for eight Emmys.
“Jean-Marc stood for creativity, authenticity, and trying things differently. He was a true artist and a generous, loving guy,” his producing partner Nathan Ross said in a statement. “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.”