As celebrities get ready for the Biggest Night in Hollywood, one film producer is paying tribute to the star of his Oscar-nominated movie.
Erik Hemmendorff, the producer of Triangle of Sadness, remembered South African model-turned-actress Charlbi Dean as a ‘one-of-a-kind’ performer as he prepared to attend the Los Angles ceremony without Dean, who died of bacterial sepsis last August aged just 32.
Dean had been acting completely normal and was seen sparring in a boxing lesson just days before she was rushed to a New York City hospital, where she shockingly died just a few hours later. Her family later explained she’d had her spleen removed following a serious car accident in 2008, which made her more vulnerable to infections such as the one which claimed her life.
The news came just two weeks before the start of a planned North American press junket, and five weeks before Triangle of Sadness was set to be released in the US.
The film was expected to be Dean’s breakout role, where she played a spoiled influencer called Yaya who boards a superyacht for a luxury vacation, only for the ship to sink, leaving the uber-wealthy stranded on a deserted island.
Critics heaped praise on her performance, calling her ‘a star in the making’ – and there is little doubt she would have been among the stars lining the red carpet Sunday night.
Charlbi Dean was set to become a star for her role in Triangle of Sadness when she died of bacterial sepsis last August at the age of 32
She features in the Oscar-nominated film Triangle of Sadness as a spoiled influencer called Yaya who boards a superyacht for a luxury vacation
Explaining how well she played the role of a spoiled influencer called Yaya, Hemmendorff told The Hollywood Reporter: ‘(Charlbi) was a trouper, a very easygoing, cool person. We were all talking about who this character could be, and then someone said, “That sounds like Charlbi.”
‘So we got ahold of her and asked her, “Would you come to Sweden for two days because we are not going to give you a role if you don’t do a real casting with Ruben at our office.” And she just did it. She flew over, and I mean, it was there immediately. We have a very specific way of shooting and working.
Hemmendorff continued: ‘There are hierarchies, but we really work with people who will enjoy working hard in that type of creative environment. And she was just one of those people who made everyone feel great always.
‘You could do as many takes as you want. She was always ready for the next one, a professional. The nicest, most easygoing person, very hardworking. She was one of a kind.’
Hemmendorff’s glowing praise for South African-born Dean’s good-natured professionalism stands in marked contrast to the character she played in Triangle of Sadness.
Yaya, the model and social media star portrayed by Dean, is vapid and entitled, with the fictional diva running into trouble when a free yacht cruise she accepts goes disastrously wrong.
Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw called Dean in the aftermath ‘a star in the making.’
Triangle of Sadness is nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director at the Oscars.
It won the prestigious Palme d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival last year, and received an eight minute standing ovation from an enraptured audience at the annual movie event.
Dean was revered as a ‘star in the making’ at the time of her sudden death. She is pictured here in June at the premiere of Netflix’s Spiderhead
Dean’s death came just weeks before Triangle of Sadness was set to premiere in the US. She is seen here with her castmates Vicki Berlin, Woody Harrelson, as well as director Ruben Ostlund
Triangle of Sadness won the prestigious Palme d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival last year, and received an eight minute standing ovation from an enraptured audience at the annual movie event
Recalling how haunting it was to promote the movie without the actress, the movie’s director Rüben Ostlund told Yahoo: ‘We were just about to go off and do this [press] tour together and go to Toronto and have the whole ensemble standing there presenting the film together.
‘And all of a sudden there’s one spot that is missing. Someone is not standing there and taking part of the credit for the work. So that has been something that’s felt really, really sad on a level that was unexpected.’
He agreed that the movie would likely have turbocharged Dean’s career, saying: ‘She may have been working as a model and was an actress before, but it felt like this was a little crossroad where [her career] was heading somewhere [exciting].’
Ostlund said he hopes the movie itself will serve as a memorial to Dean, and revealed he takes comfort in knowing Dean’s family were thrilled by her performance and the glowing reviews.
Director Erik Hemmendorf, pictured last month, remembered Dean as a ‘one-of-a-kind’ performer in a recent interview
Dean is pictured here with her fiancee Luke Volker in a picture posted to his Instagram
Dean is survived by her mother, Joann Mueller, and brother Alex Jacobs (pictured)
Dean worked as a child model and attended Waterfront Theatre School in her hometown of Cape Town in her teens.
She appeared in local TV productions, and American superhero series Black Lightning before landing the role in Triangle of Sadness.
The young actress’s sudden death triggered a global outpouring of tributes.
Dean is survived by her parents Joanne Mueller and Johan Kriek, as well as her brother Alex Jacobs and her fiancé Luke Volmer, a South African actor and model.