Director Jean-Marc Vallée who had delivered Oscar winning movies like Dallas Buyers Club and big Little lies passed away in his Quebec City home in Canada, the morning after Christmas, 26 December. The cause of his death has however not been disclosed to the media by the family yet. He was only 58 years of age.
Vallée was quite the prominent figure in Hollywood having worked with A-listed celebrities like Shailene Woodley and Matthew McConaughey and also has four Oscars and two golden globes to his credit. When asked the reason behind such a keen eye when it comes to filmmaking and garnering such success in so short a time span, the director explained that it was his motto to let the actors act for themselves. He elaborated on his signature style and direction saying “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. 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.” The interview was made to DGA Quarterly in 2019. Previous to this he has also explained how his technique worked so well primarily because it allowed the actors to explore and channelize a whole range of emotions through their work, which is also what he aimed to being out in them while directing a film.
“They can move anywhere they want,” he explained to The Associated Press in 2014 adding that, “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 [are] like, ‘This location sucks. It’s not very nice. But, hey, that’s life.’”
His news of sudden demise came as a huge shock to most of the actors who have previously worked with him. Big Little Lies actress and one of the lead stars in the HBO mini-series, Shailene Woodley expressed deep anguish in an Instagram Story post on Monday, December 27. With a throwback picture of her with Jean-Marc, she captioned, “My f–king god death is the worst. But I guess somehow I know you will turn it into a grand adventure. One for the books. One I can’t wait to read and to watch when my time comes. It doesn’t make sense though dude. It doesn’t. Maybe when we wake up tomorrow, you’ll be there laughing saying it was just a satirical short film you made. That it’s not real.”
Actress Reese Witherspoon who also co-starred in the same drama series posted a picture of her with the director saying “My heart is broken, My friend. I love you.”
Nathan Ross who was Jean-Marc’s production partner at Crazyrose production company, owned by Vallée, wrote in a statement how deeply hurt and heartbroken he felt at the director’s untimely and sudden demise. “He was a friend, creative partner and an older brother to me,” he said and added that he will be sorely missed, not only him but his type of subtle, understated yet highly intuitive and engaging genre of filmmaking.
Among other celebrities who mourned his loss, was Cameron Bailey, CEO of the Toronto international Film festival. “Can’t believe it. Jean-Marc Vallée was a prodigious talent, and the only filmmaker to both open (DEMOLITION) and close (THE YOUNG VICTORIA) the Toronto International Film Festival. I’ll miss his fire,” Bailey tweeted on December 27.
The filmmaker’s publicist Bumble Ward, also expressed deep shock and regret over his passing away but made no mention of the cause of death or even the nature of it and instead requested privacy for the family. The director is currently survived by his wife and close family and friends.