Jean-Marc Vallee received a timely career tribute Tuesday at the Vancouver Film Festival, as Hollywood may not be seeing the Dallas Buyers Club director for a while after he busily helmed all of the episodes of the limited HBO series Big Little Lies last year, for which he won an Emmy as best director, and this year’s Sharp Objects.
“I’m on a break, have been for a month, and I have seven more to go. I’m taking eight months to recharge my batteries and to get my life back,” Vallee told The Hollywood Reporter after shooting the two murder mysteries, back to back. “I didn’t know it would be so demanding, but it’s a marathon, a Herculean effort for a director to direct all the episodes. I shot 180 days in 20 months, Big Little Lies and then Sharp Objects,” he added.
Vallee said it wasn’t his choice to become a workaholic since six years ago earning multiple Oscar nominations for Dallas Buyers Club, including an eventual best actor win for Matthew McConaughey and a best supporting actor nod for Jared Leto. “It just happened. I need the break I’m on now,” he insisted.
But surely Vallee could have followed other TV directors and helmed one or two episodes of Big Littles Lies and Sharp Objects? “No. That’s not possible, just to do one,” he said. “It’s not over. It’s like directing a feature film and stopping after 30 minutes. ‘Okay, other director, take over.’ No, you have a story with an arc and a conclusion, and the conclusion is at the end of eight episodes, not the end of one,” the Montreal-based helmer explained.
And after casting Big Little Lies, which is led by Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, and the Amy Adams-starrer Sharp Objects, Vallee wasn’t about to abandon his actors after directing one or two episodes. “No. I wouldn’t want to do that. I want to be there for one big, long feature film. The actors aren’t quitting after one episode. They’re there from episode one to eight,” he insisted.
But while he wants to pause his career for eight months, Vallee already has his next two projects in the pipeline. “After four weeks, I’ve been very good at my break… I’m not even researching my next project because I already have two in the works. I’m going back to a feature film, returning to a regular 40-day shoot. That will be great,” he explained.
Vallee is keeping tight-lipped on his next movie, except to say he will co-write the script. And he hopes to eventually direct his own French-language script once again, after he resurrected his career in 2005 with C.R.A.Z.Y., a coming-of-age drama about a young gay man dealing with his homophobic family.
One of his upcoming projects is Les Temps Magiques, the third of a film trilogy he did during the 1990s after Les Fleurs Magiques and Les Mots Magiques, with the feature script already written. And having earlier this year launched his own production shingle, Crazyrose, with executive producer Nathan Ross, Vallee also has his eye on continuing work stateside.
“We created this to expand and find material and artists and great directors and writers to help, using our abilities to launch them. I’ll serve as an executive producer,” he explained.
The Vancouver Film Festival continues through Oct. 12.