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Prolific helmer-producer Tony Scott dies at 68
'Top Gun' director commits suicide by jumping from San Pedro bridge
By: Variety Staff
Posted On: Aug. 19, 2012
Director Tony Scott, the veteran director-producer of stylish action-thrillers who with his brother Ridley Scott ran the prolific Scott Free Prods. banner, committed suicide Sunday by jumping off the Vincent Thomas Bridge near San Pedro. He was 68.
The shock of Scott's suicide reverberated through showbiz circles Sunday evening after L.A. County and U.S. Coast Guard officials confirmed that Tony Scott's body was recovered from the harbor area and that he had left a note inside his black Toyota Prius, which was parked on one of the eastbound lanes of the bridge.
Scott, the younger of the British brothers, was known for helming such blockbusters as 1986's "Top Gun," 1987's "Beverly Hills Cop II" and 1995's "Crimson Tide." In recent years, he had been more active as a producer of film and TV fare through Scott Free. He had long been developing a "Top Gun" sequel as a directing vehicle, as well as a drama "Emma's War" with Kennedy/Marshall Co. His last feature helming credit was 2010 Denzel Washington starrer "Unstoppable," and he was a producer on Ridley Scott's high-profile summer release "Prometheus."
Among Scott Free's many TV projects are A&E Network's upcoming redo of "Coma" as a miniseries, and CBS' drama series "The Good Wife" and "Numbers" and the Starz mini "Pillars of the Earth."
Scott Free has a host of projects in various stages of development. In TV, the banner has been active in financing projects through pre-sales to foreign TV outlets, reflecting the brothers' background.
Born in Newcastle in 1944, Scott went to art school where he became interested in cinematography. He earned a masters degree from London's Royal College of Arts and helmed the 1971 pic "Loving Memory" for the British Film Institute from an original script financed by Albert Finney.
Tony and Ridley Scott in 1973 formed London-based commercial production company Ridley Scott Associates. Scott made his name as an award-winning helmer of dozens of blurbs for RSA and others. He did some longform directing for U.K. TV outlets before landing his first feature helming gig, 1983's "The Hunger," starring Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie.
A few years later, Scott was a surprise choice by producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson to helm superstar Tom Cruise in the Air Force actioner "Top Gun." The pic became a mammoth hit and established Scott as a go-to helmer for the prosperous Simpson/Bruckheimer shop.
After "Beverly Hills Cop II," he again teamed with Cruise for 1990's "Days of Thunder" and helmed Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans in 1991's "The Last Boy Scout." He ventured away from actioners for the Quentin Tarantino-penned crimer "True Romance," featuring a slew of up and coming stars including Brad Pitt.
Other helming credits include "The Fan" (1996), "Enemy of the State" (1998) and "Spy Game" (2001), "Man on Fire" (2004), "Domino" (2005) and the 2009 remake of 1970s telepic "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3." In recent years, Scott Free has had a feature production pact with 20th Century Fox.
In television, Scott Free has tackled a range of projects from historical docus to big-budget costume dramas. He won an Emmy in 2002 for "The Gathering Storm," the HBO-BBC telepic about Winston Churchill in the years leading up to WWII. His other Emmy noms included mentions for "The Good Wife" and a movie/mini series nom for 1999's "RKO 281," an HBO made-for about the making of "Citizen Kane."
As news of Scott's death spread Sunday night, buzzers and fans took to social media to express shock at the fact that he would take his own life.
"Rest in Peace, Mister Scott," hyphenate Bryan Fuller said in a Twitter message.
"My heart stopped when I heard of the tragic death of 1 of r most inspiring directors," helmer Adam Shankman said via Twitter.
"No more Tony Scott movies. Tragic day," said Ron Howard via Twitter.
In addition to his brother, Scott's urvivors include his wife, actress Donna Scott, and two sons.
(The Associated Press and others contributed to this report.)