Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Tony Scott, the British-born filmmaker who directed Hollywood blockbusters such as Top Gun, True Romance and Crimson Tide, has died after leaping off a bridge in Los Angeles. The 68-year-old younger brother of director Ridley Scott took his own life yesterday afternoon after parking his car on the Vincent Thomas Bridge and leaping into the water below, Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office confirmed today.
Scott, who was born in North Shields, Northumberland in 1944, is survived by his third wife Donna and their twin sons.
Witnesses described seeing Scott park his car on the 56-metre-high bridge overlooking Los Angeles harbour and leaping to his death “without hesitation” at about 12.30pm local time. Lieutenant Joe Bale, a watch commander for LA’s coroner's office, said Scott’s body was recovered by law enforcement shortly before 3pm. A note was found in Scott's car that Bale said he believed would turn out to be a suicide note, though he was not familiar with its contents. "Typically, when they find a note in cases like this, it's not a shopping list," he said. Scott, who was often seen behind the camera wearing his signature red faded baseball cap, has been credited with directing more than 24 films and television programmes, and producing nearly 50 titles.
He was best known for muscular but stylish high-octane thrillers that showcased some of Hollywood's biggest stars in a body of work that dated back to the 1980s and established him as one of the most successful action directors in the business. He got his start making TV commercials for his older sibling's London-based production company, Ridley Scott Associates, and moved into films for television and cinema. His big breakthrough came in 1986 fighter jet adventure Top Gun, which starred Tom Cruise as a hot-shot pilot, and he followed that with another big hit, the 1987 Eddie Murphy comedy Beverly Hills Cop II. Other notable directing credits include the 1990 racing drama "Days of Thunder", which also featured Cruise, Crimson Tide and the 1998 spy thriller "Enemy of the State", which paired Hackman and Will Smith.
Tony Scott's suicide note to loved ones offers no clues as to why the filmmaker jumped to his death Coroner's office said suicide note offered not motive and didn't mention any health problems Scott met with Tom Cruise only 48-hours before he jumped to his death as they toured locations for the Top Gun sequel that was in pre-production Chairman of 20th Century Fox said that the British director was enthusiastic about future projects in a meeting held two weeks before his suicide
Picture taken in Beverly Hills on July 23 shows Scott looking pained
Taken just weeks before he jumped 'without hesitation' from the Vincent Thomas Bridge as horrified tourists on a harbor cruise watched
Family knock down claim from friends that he had terminal illness
Tony Scott Films
The Hunger (1983) - His debut starred Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie as vampires. It was a commercial flop but became a cult classic
Top Gun (1986) - Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, and Val Kilmer turned this film into the highest-grossing of the year, $354million, and a pop-culture classic.
Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) - This Eddie Murphy film was the most highly-anticipated film of the year
Revenge (1990) – Scott left the action genre to work with Kevin Costner in this adultery thriller. It was a flop
Days of Thunder (1990) – Cruise returned for a film about the danger of NASCAR racing. Nicole Kidman and Robert Duvall played major roles
The Last Boy Scout (1991) - Bruce Willis starred in this big-budget action film that under-performed at the box office
True Romance (1993) – Ironically, this was Scott most critically-acclaimed film but also one of his biggest commercial flops
Crimson Tide (1995) – Another success for Scott in this thriller starring Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington
The Fan (1996) – Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes star in a psychological thriller about fanatical baseball fans
Enemy of the State (1998) – Will Smith played opposite Gene Hackman in a big-budget spy thriller
Spy Game (2001) – More glowing reviews for another Scott spy thriller, this one starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt
Man on Fire (2004) – Denzel Washington as a CIA operative bent on revenge after his young charge is kidnapped in Mexico
Domino (2005) – Keira Knightley stars as a bounty hunter in LA. Panned by critics
Déjà Vu (2006) – A science fiction thriller starring Denzel Washington
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009) – Denzel Washington and John Travolta play opposite each other in this terrorism-related thriller.
Unstoppable (2010) – Scott again turned to Denzel. The critics enjoyed it and the public too spending $168million
Tony Scott's short feature One of the Missing (1969), his own adaptation of an Ambrose Bierce story, was one of several films chosen to launch the newly built NFT2 screen at the National Film Theatre (now the BFI Southbank), in London, in 1970. It ran for the opening week. He later wrote, photographed, edited and directed Loving Memory (1971), financed by the British Film Institute and Memorial Enterprises, which we also premiered at the NFT, where I was programmer. After this and his film of the Henry James story The Author of Beltraffio, for the BBC, he shortened his name from Anthony Scott and abandoned "art" movies for advertising and his remarkable career in Hollywood.
A former advertising director who followed his brother Ridley (now Sir Ridley) to Hollywood, his glossy, commercial sensibility powered films such as Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop II and Days of Thunder – testosterone-filled movies described by one critic as “visual amphetamines”.
A director with little interest in ideas or morality, he created a visual sheen that lingered in the memory long after narrative and characters were forgotten. Although he was accused of vulgarity and excessive love of hardware, Scott instinctively understood the power of images and was obsessive in his quest for visual impact.
But for all the reviewing community’s artistic unease, Scott was that rarest of beasts: a British filmmaker with a blockbuster reputation. That he lived in Hollywood, collected Ferraris and Harleys and hustled through relationships, only further alienated the sensibilities of his European peers.
He had extraordinary energy, producing and directing movies, making advertisements and, with his brother “Rid”, buying and managing Shepperton studios. Often involved with 20 projects simultaneously, he relaxed by climbing mountains and running. If his films were often accused of having a shiny core where the insight or empathy might have been, no one disputed his contention that his interest lay with “people who live their life on the edge”.
"The most frightening thing I do in my life is getting up and shooting movies," said the director Tony Scott in 2009. "Every morning I'm bolt upright on one hour or two hours' sleep, before the alarm clock goes off. That's a good thing. That fear motivates me, and I enjoy that fear. I'm perverse in that way." Scott's take on film-making as an adrenalised, intimidating experience in itself was reflected in the tone and pace of his box-office hits, which included Top Gun (1986), Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) and Days of Thunder (1990).
A lover of fast cars and motorbikes on the screen and off, and a lifelong rock climber, Scott was adept at injecting thrills into his slick films. This approach rarely brought him critical acclaim and his movies were sometimes unfavourably compared with the more ambitious, philosophical works of his older brother Sir Ridley Scott, the director of Gladiator (2000) and Prometheus (2012). Unlike Ridley, he was never nominated for an Oscar. Nonetheless, several of Tony's films were rewarded with huge commercial success as audiences bought wholeheartedly into his vision. He has died at the age of 68 after jumping from a bridge in Los Angeles.
Scott spent eight years in art school as painter, his original vocation. But after helping his brother Ridley make his thesis project film at university, things took a different course for him. He started shooting commercials and music videos, later moving to feature filmmaking. Scott’s first official film stands far in form and substance from the mainsteam thrillers which later defined his career: the haunting and dolorous, but exquisite, “The Hunger,” which starred none other than Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie–not a bad casting for a first movie.
Scott’s Hollywood career went off with a bang after this, directing the first blockbuster releases of the legendary but short-lived Simpson-Bruckheimer partnership, namely, “Top Gun,” and “Crimson Tide.” Scott helped put the fledgling studio on the map; Bruckheimer continued thriving while Simpson disintegrated in a ball of fire. The partnership continued but eventually petered out after the massive flop of “Days of Thunder.” One might say “Days” could’ve been a turning point in Scott’s career trajectory: the films that followed were all commercial disasters and I wonder if that did not haunt him. More recent films like “Déjà vu” and “Taking of Pelham 123” were well-received critically and did decently well at the box-office; Tony Scott had managed a soft comeback.