When he was attending this year’s Toronto International Film Festival with his film, The Young Victoria — an intimate account of the iconic British monarch’s early years on the throne — Jean Marc Vallee’s hair was considerably shorter than it was when he was in Toronto for his Genie-winning C.R.A.Z.Y.

This tonsorial disparity speaks to the differences between the two films: Where C.R.A.Z.Y.’s amped-up autobiographical narrative gave the Montreal-based filmmaker licence to let it all hang out, The Young Victoria’s subject matter called for a more pared-down approach.

“Normally, period pieces are not my cup of tea,” explains Vallee, who took several years to decide how to follow up the critical and commercial success of C.R.A.Z.Y.

“But Julian Fellowes’ script was beautiful: He has such a rare way of writing about this world. I felt like I could spend the next two years of my life trying to get it onscreen.”

Vallee admits that The Young Victoria, which hits theatres next week, is a less personal project than C.R.A.Z.Y., and that he struggled for a while with striking a balance between individual vision and the demands of the costume-drama genre.

“On the credits, it doesn’t say (that this is) ‘a film by (Jean-Marc Vallee) … it says ‘directed by.’ What I mean is that I’m not the only one making creative decisions. I had to learn how to work in that sort of new environment. I wanted my voice to be in there, but it wasn’t the only one.”