Jean-Marc Vallée's Cause of Death Revealed

Director died of a heart attack, rep confirms
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 27, 2021 2:17 AM CST
Updated Dec 28, 2021 3:47 AM CST
Dallas Buyers Club Director Dies Suddenly at 58
Jean-Marc Vallee arrives at the 29th American Cinematheque Awards honoring Reese Witherspoon at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on Oct. 30, 2015, in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) Update: It was a heart attack that killed Jean-Marc Vallée, the director's rep tells the Los Angeles Times. Deadline says Vallée was a "fitness fanatic and teetotaler," exercising often and practicing Wim Hof's breathing method, which the New York Post says involves "holding one’s breath for long periods of time, often in frigid environments." Tributes to Vallée are pouring in; see some here. Our original story from Monday follows:

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, the AP reports. He was 58. His representative Bumble Ward said Sunday that Vallée died suddenly 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 past decade.

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. 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.

“They can move anywhere they want,” the Canadian filmmaker said of his actors in a 2014 interview with the AP. “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 DGA awards for both.

(Read more obituary stories.)

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