Jean-Marc Vallée, ‘Big Little Lies’ & ‘Sharp Objects’ Director, Dies at 58

Jean-Marc Vallée attends the 71st Emmy Awards
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Oscar-nominated director Jean-Marc Vallée, who directed the HBO series Big Little Lies and Sharp Objects, has died at his cabin outside Quebec City, Canada. He was 58. According to Deadline, Vallée’s family and close advisors are in shock at the sudden loss. A cause of death has not been confirmed publicly as of yet.

“Jean-Marc stood for creativity, authenticity and trying things differently. He was a true artist and a generous, loving guy,” said his producing partner Nathan Ross (via Variety). “Everyone who worked with him couldn’t help but see the talent and vision he possessed.”

Ross continued, “He was a friend, creative partner and an older brother to me. The maestro will sorely be missed but it comforts knowing his beautiful style and impactful work he shared with the world will live on.”

Vallée was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and studied filmmaking at the Collège Ahuntsic and the Université du Québec à Montréal. He started his career directing music videos before going on to direct several short films that received critical interest. He made his feature-length debut in 1995 with Black List, which became the highest-grossing film in Quebec that year and received several Genie Award nominations.

Following his breakout film C.R.A.Z.Y., Vallée was hired by Graham King and Martin Scorsese to direct the period drama film The Young Victoria. But it was 2013’s Dallas Buyers Club that earned him his biggest success, with the film receiving multiple Oscar nominations, including a Best Film Editing nomination for Vallée under his alias, John Mac McMurphy.

In recent years, Vallée turned his attention to television work. He directed the first season of David E. Kelley’s Big Little Lies, starring Reese Witherspoon, who Vallée had worked with years earlier on the movie Wild. He received the DGA Award and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for his work on the series.

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Vallée would return to HBO in 2019 to direct Marti Noxon’s psychological thriller Sharp Objects, which was nominated for eight Emmys. Vallée was also set to direct another HBO series, Gorilla and the Bird, based on a memoir by Zack McDermott about a public defender who suffers a sudden psychotic break that takes him on a harrowing journey of delusions and antisocial behavior.

“Jean-Marc Vallée was a brilliant, fiercely dedicated filmmaker, a truly phenomenal talent who infused every scene with a deeply visceral, emotional truth,” said a statement released by HBO (via Deadline). “He was also a hugely caring man who invested his whole self alongside every actor he directed.”

“We are shocked at the news of his sudden death, and we extend our heartfelt sympathies to his sons, Alex and Émile, his extended family, and his longtime producing partner, Nathan Ross.”