Dan Ireland, The Whole Wide World and Jolene Director, Dies at 57

Dan Ireland Dies at 57
Dan Ireland
Kevin Winter/Getty

04/15/2016 AT 06:25 PM EDT

Dan Ireland, director of The Whole Wide World and Jolene, has died at 57.

Ireland, who also cofounded the Seattle International Film Festival in 1975, died Thursday at his Los Angeles home, his manager, Paul Nelson, tells PEOPLE. While the cause of death remains unclear, Nelson confirms Ireland had recently been suffering from flu-like symptoms.

His directorial debut, The Whole Wide World (1996), helped launch the career of his lead actress, Renée Zellweger.

Ireland also directed Jessica Chastain in her film debut in 2008's Jolene, in which she played an orphan who spends a decade exploring the country.



Chastain took to Twitter on Friday to express her condolences, writing, "The sweetest angel left us. Called his voicemail just to hear his voice once more. I'll miss you baby."



Ireland was currently set to direct Bill Paxton and Ashley Judd in Life Briefly, the story of real-life musician Brian Knapp. Shooting was set to begin in January but was postponed due to financial issues.

After creating the Seattle International Film Festival at a young age with his childhood friend Darryl Macdonald, Ireland was able to secure world premieres for films like Alien, The Empire Strikes Back and Poltergeist.
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