Jean-Marc Vallée, the director of the Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club and HBO hit show Big Little Lies, died Sunday at his home in Quebec City, Canada at the age of 58. Vallée’s publicist, Bumble Ward, confirmed the news to CNN, though a cause of death was not immediately available, although many believe the cause of death is due to heart attack. Jean was a health enthusiast and even had abstained from drinking alcohol.
“He was a friend, creative partner, and an older brother to me,” Nathan Ross, a partner in Vallée’s production company Crazyrose, said in a 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.”
“What you may not know is that he was sweet and kind, full of gratitude, remembered birthdays, and sent awesome mixtapes, while still being a creative genius,” Ward wrote on Twitter.
Born on March 9, 1963, in Montreal, Vallée began making short films and soon moved into features with his 1995 debut Black List. His breakthrough came with 2005’s C.R.A.Z.Y., which won four Genie Awards in Canada, including Best Picture, Screenplay and 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.
In 2017, Vallée became both executive producer and director of Big Little Lies, the HBO show based on Liane Moriarty’s bestselling book centered around the denizens of an upper-class city involved in a murder investigation. Vallée helmed the entire first season of the show, which has gone on to win multiple Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series and, for Vallée, Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special. Sharp Objects with Amy Adams earned Vallée another Directors Guild of America award after Big Little Lies.
According to the New York Times, Vallée had been planning on directing Gorilla and the Bird, a series based on a memoir of Zack McDermott, a former public defender who has a psychotic break.
“I’m not pushing style and I’m not saying, ‘Hey, let’s aim for a style,’ and I’m not aiming for tone either,” Vallée told DGA Quarterly in 2019. “People ask me sometimes, ‘How did you manage to get this tone in your film?’ And I don’t think tone and style. I think emotion, storytelling, characters.”