Matthew McConaughey leads tributes for Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Vallée, dead at 58

Director Jean-Marc Vallée poses in a black shirt and suit jacket in front of a white background

Tributes are pouring in for Canadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée – who directed Dallas Buyers Club, Big Little Lies and C.R.A.Z.Y. – who has died aged 58.

Vallée died over the weekend at his cabin outside Quebec City, Canada. His publicist, Bumble Ward, said his death was unexpected, the New York Times reported.

Canadian police said Vallée was found on Sunday (26 December) by friends who were visiting him.

An official cause of death has not been given. However, Vallée’s rep has said the director died of a suspected heart attack, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Jean-Marc Vallée is survived by his two sons and three siblings.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau paid tribute to Vallée on social media for the huge impact the director had on Canadian cinema.

“Jean-Marc Vallée’s passion for filmmaking and storytelling was unmatched – so too was his talent,” Trudeau wrote. “Through his work and with his art, he left a mark in Quebec, across Canada, and around the world.”

Much of Jean-Marc Vallée’s work centred on the stories of women and members of the LGBT+ community.

C.R.A.Z.Y., released in 2005, told the story of a young gay man dealing with homophobia while growing up with his brothers and father in Quebec during the 60s and 70s.

The film won 11 awards at the Genie Awards – accolades given by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, which was eventually succeeded by the Canadian Film Awards – in 2006.

Vallée also directed the Oscar-winning film Dallas Buyers Club, which focused on the life of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) who set up a “buyers club” for drugs to treat HIV and AIDS in the 80s.

While the film garnered critical acclaim, it did attract criticism from the LGBT+ community. William Waybourn, the former president of the Dallas Gay Alliance, told HuffPost in 2013 that the film’s depiction of Woodroof as a homophobe didn’t align with the man he knew.

Waybourn described how Woodroof “worked in a gay centre”, was “surrounded by gay men” and, “as far as I know, had relationships with gay men”.

Jared Leto also faced backlash for playing Rayon, a trans woman with HIV in the film. Several people called out Dallas Buyers Club for not considering a trans actor for the part.

McConaughey released a statement on Twitter remembering Vallée as a man with a “gentle hand and heart”.

“With a gentle hand and heart Jean-Marc was a true receiver – he didn’t romanticise life so much as he saw life romantic – from the struggle to the pain to the wink and the whisper, love stories were everywhere in his eye,” the actor wrote.

Jared Leto also fondly remembered Jean-Marc Vallée on social media. He described the director as a “filmmaking force and true artist who changed my life with a beautiful movie called Dallas Buyers Club”.

Vallée also directed Reese Witherspoon in Wild, a film based on the memoir of Cheryl Strayed who completed a 1,100-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995. Witherspoon was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Cheryl.

Vallée and Witherspoon teamed up again in the HBO series Big Little Lies, which won eight primetime Emmys in 2017 for its stellar acting and directing.

Witherspoon shared several pictures of her working alongside Vallée over the years in an emotional tribute to the director.


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A post shared by Reese Witherspoon (@reesewitherspoon)

She wrote: “I will always remember you as the sun goes down. Chasing the light. On a mountain in Oregon. On a beach in Monterey. Making sure we all caught a little magic in this lifetime.

“I love you, Jean-Marc. Until we meet again.”