‘Top Gun’ director left notes before plunging to death off bridge
Director Tony Scott at red carpet premiere for the movie 'Unstoppable.' (CNN)
Los Angeles (CNN) — Film director Tony Scott left notes in his car and office before plunging to his death from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro, California, a Los Angeles County coroner official said Monday.
Scott, best known for the films “Top Gun” and “Beverly Hills Cop II,” apparently committed suicide by jumping from the bridge about 12:30 p.m. Sunday, said Lt. Joe Bale of the coroner’s office.
“There’s nothing to indicate it is anything else at this time,” Bale said.
A friend found a note from Scott, 68, in his Los Angeles office, apparently written for his family, Deputy Chief Coroner Ed Winter said. A note left in his car on the bridge including names and phone numbers for his family was probably intended for officials investigating his death, Winter said.
The bridge spans Los Angeles Harbor, connecting San Pedro and Terminal Island.
A passerby who saw Scott jump from the bridge called 911, according to a statement released by the coroner’s office late Sunday.
“The L.A. Port Police recovered the body from the water,” the statement said.
Born Anthony D.L. Scott in North Shields, England, in 1944, Tony — as he was known — got his start as a teenager in front of the camera, starring in his older brother Ridley Scott’s film “Boy and Bicycle.” In 1995, the two joined forces to create the production company Scott Free Productions.
Simon Halls, a publicist who represents the Scott brothers, confirmed the death.
“The family asks for privacy during this time,” Halls said.
Tony Scott became a household name in 1986 as director of the mega-hit “Top Gun,” starring Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis. He followed that up with the Eddie Murphy action movie “Beverly Hills Cop II” in 1987.
Pepperdine University film professor Craig Detweiler called Scott “the supreme stylist” who “operated at the top of his game throughout each decade of his career.”
“He was able to make the thinnest of premises into something pulse-pounding and exciting and he’s almost a filmmaker as a magician who found drama amidst almost contrived situations,” Detweiler said.
Taking his own life by jumping from a bridge is “a high adrenaline ending, which matches his dramatic style,” he said.
“He put Denzel Washington, Will Smith and Tom Cruise in movies where one man overcomes all struggles, triumphs over struggles, and yet it appears he was not able to write that story for himself,” he said.
Actor Michael Rapaport, who was directed by Scott in “True Romance,” took to Twitter to praise the director. In one post, he said there hasn’t been a day since the movie was released in 1993 that someone doesn’t tell him how much they loved the film.
“Tony Scott was a sweet enthusiastic & lovin man,” Rapaport wrote.
Scott cemented his reputation for big-budget action films with 1990′s “Revenge” starring Kevin Costner and “Days of Thunder” with Tom Cruise. In 1998, he directed “Enemy of the State” with Will Smith and Gene Hackman.
It was on the set of “Days of Thunder” where Scott met actress Donna Wilson, whom he married in 1994. They had twin sons.
Reaction to Scott’s death poured out through Twitter, with directors, actors and fans mourning the news.
“Tony Scott as a friend and a mentor was irreplaceable. Tone, wherever you are, I love you man. RIP,” director and producer Joe Carnahan said on Twitter.
Carnahan recounted how when his movie “The Grey” was finished, Scott called to tell him he had seen it. He told Carnahan it was great and not to allow anybody to change anything in it.
“Tony always sent personal, handwritten notes & always drew a cartoon caricature of himself, smoking a cigar, with his hat colored in red,” Carnahan said in a post.
Director and actor Adam Shankman said his heart stopped when he heard of the “tragic death” of one of “(our) most inspiring directors, Tony Scott.”
“Rest in Peace Tony. U will be missed so…,” he wrote in a post on Twitter.
Director Ron Howard said simply, via Twitter: “Tragic day.”
Scott directed his last film, the train thriller “Unstoppable” starring Denzel Washington, in 2010.
“For me, it was the most challenging movie of my life, and the most dangerous because I’m shooting 90 percent of the movie on a train that is running between 50 and 70 mph,” Scott told CNN at the time.
Scott’s reputation in Hollywood was low-key.
“He wasn’t a showy kind of guy,” longtime entertainment reporter Jeanne Wolf told CNN.
Scott was often seen sporting a frayed, faded red ball cap on the movie sets and at red carpet premieres.
The ball cap, Wolf said, was his trademark.
While Scott’s movies garnered box office success, they never received the acclaim that generated Academy Award nominations.
In 2002, the Scott brothers won an Emmy for the television movie “The Gathering Storm.”
Scott also was nominated for the Emmy as a producer for the CBS drama “The Good Wife.”
“So very, very sorry to hear of the death of Tony Scott,” actress Martha Plimpton, who appeared in “The Good Wife,” said via Twitter.
Among his last projects was serving as an executive producer on the TV miniseries “Coma,” which is due to air this year.
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