South African actress and model Charlbi Dean, who starred in the award-winning film Triangle of Sadness and the TV series Black Lightning, died at 32.
Dean had a breakout role opposite Woody Harrelson in Triangle of Sadness, which won the top prize, the Palme d’Or, at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Based on DC Comics characters in Black Lightning, she appeared as Syonide.
Dean’s representatives said her death in hospital from a sudden unexpected illness was “devastating.”
Triangle of Sadness is a strong contender for next year’s Oscars.
In writer and director Ruben Ostlund’s Triangle of Sadness, Dean played Yaya, one half of a model couple who were invited on a cruise that goes wrong.
Ostlund paid tribute on Instagram, posting a picture of the actress on set, and describing her death as “a shock and a tragedy.”
“It is an honor to have gotten to know and work with her,” he wrote. “Charlbi’s care and sensitivity lifted her colleagues and the entire film crew.
“The thought that she will not be by our side in the future makes me very sad.”
Dean’s friend and fellow actress, The Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev, shared images of the two of them.
“An angel has gone to heaven far too soon,” she posted. “May heaven be all you ever imagined.”
In The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw said: “Charlbi Dean was a true star-in-the-making. Her loss is a huge one.”
Fellow film critic Robert Daniels tweeted that the news was “tragic.” He wrote: “Charlbi Dean was on the verge of a breakthrough with Triangle of Sadness. I was looking forward to where her career will go next.”
Another critic, Guy Lodge, called it “a massive shock,” adding: “She’s so witty and deadpan and clockwork-precise in Triangle of Sadness, and I was so excited to see a new South African talent on the international scene.”
Playwright Jeremy O Harris described the late actress as a “true talent.” He posted: “This is devastating. Charlbi Dean was such an exciting performer to me after seeing her in Triangle of Sadness.
“Her work had a vulnerability and intellect a lesser actor would have denied the character.”
Triangle of Sadness is a biting social satire that sees models and the ultra-rich have their status undermined by unexpected events. It is set to be released in October and is expected to be in the running for the 2023 Oscars.
Speaking about the film before it was crowned at Cannes, Dean told the Associated Press: “For me, I’m like, I’ve already won. I’m already at Cannes with the movie. That’s so unbelievable. Anything is just a cherry on top at this point for me.”
Sweden’s ‘king of cringe’ wins top prize in Cannes.
Born and raised in Cape Town, Dean became a childhood model, adorning the covers of the South African editions of GQ and Elle, before making her acting debut in the 2010 film Spud – an adaptation of a famous South African novel that also starred Troye Sivan and John Cleese.
She went on to appear in films such as Death Race 3: Inferno, Blood in the Water, and Don’t Sleep and Porthole.
Dean, who survived a near-fatal car accident in 2008, was engaged to model Luke Volker, who posted during Cannes in May that he “couldn’t be more proud” of her success.