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‘Dallas Buyers Club’ and ‘Big Little Lies’ director Jean-Marc Vallée dies at 58

Jean-Marc Vallée arrives at the 29th American Cinematheque Awards
Jean-Marc Vallée arrives at the 29th American Cinematheque Awards honoring Reese Witherspoon at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles in 2015.
(Jordan Strauss / Associated Press)
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Director and producer Jean-Marc Vallée, 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. He was 58.

His representative Bumble Ward said Sunday that Vallée died unexpectedly in his cabin outside Quebec City, Canada, over the weekend.

Vallée was acclaimed for his naturalistic approach to filmmaking, directing stars including Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal over the last decade.

While filming “Wild,” director Jean-Marc Vallée set some de-glamorizing ground rules for his lead actress, Reese Witherspoon: She couldn’t wear makeup, had to cover the mirrors in her trailer and wasn’t allowed to lighten the load in the comically massive backpack worn by her character, Cheryl Strayed.

He directed Emily Blunt in 2009’s “The Young Victoria” and became a sought-after name in Hollywood after “Dallas Buyers Club,” featuring Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, earned six Academy Awards nominations, including best picture.

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He 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.”

‘Dallas Buyers’ director Jean-Marc Vallee emerges from the shadows

“They can move anywhere they want,” the Canadian filmmaker said of his actors in a 2014 interview with the Associated Press. “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.’”

He re-teamed with Witherspoon to direct the first season of “Big Little Lies” in 2017, and directed Adams in 2018′s “Sharp Objects,” also for HBO. Vallée won Directors Guild of America awards for both.

Get actress Amy Adams and director Jean-Marc Vallée into a room together and at some point Led Zeppelin might start blaring through the puny speakers of an iPhone, with Adams doing a subtle sing-along midway.


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