Top Gun director Tony Scott dies after jumping from Los Angeles bridge
Tony Scott, the British-born Hollywood director behind hits including Top Gun and Crimson Tide, has died after jumping off a Los Angeles bridge, authorities said today.
The 68 year-old, originally from North Shields, North Tyneside, died after he plunged almost 200 feet from the Vincent Thomas Bridge, in the city's south, at lunchtime on Sunday.
Witnesses reported seeing the father-of-two calmly parking his black Toyota Prius near the bridge, before walking to the south side where he leapt off "without hesitation" just after 12:30pm local time.
Within hours of his death becoming public, a shocked Hollywood paid tribute to the younger brother of film-maker Sir Ridley Scott, who was frequently seen behind the camera in his signature faded red baseball cap.
The US Coast Guard said officials found a note listing contact information inside his car, parked on an eastbound lane of the cable-suspension bridge, the scene of several Hollywood productions.
A suicide note was later found at the downtown Los Angeles office of the Hollywood legend, who also directed Days Of Thunder and Beverly Hills Cop II.
Unconfirmed reports suggested Scott, who who grew up by the river Tyne in northern England, had depression.
Today, it was believed that his actress wife, Donna Scott, who appeared in several of her husband's films, was being comforted by friends and family at their Beverly Hills home. The pair had twin 12 year-old boys Frank and Max.
He had been married twice previously, firstly to Gerry Scott whom he divorced in 1974 after seven years of marriage and the Glynis Sanders, an advertising executive whom he divorced after a year of marriage in 1987.
“I can confirm that Tony Scott has indeed passed away,” said his publicist, Simon Halls.
“The family asks that their privacy be respected at this time.”
The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office said a dive team using sonar equipment pulled the body from the murky waters in Los Angeles harbour several hours later after a massive search.
Lieutenant Joe Bale, a watch commander for the coroner's office, said there was no evidence to suggest foul play.
“At this point we are investigating this as a suicide,” he said. “There is nothing to lead us to believe otherwise. A note was left in the car.
"We will go where the facts take us. We have no reason to believe it was not a suicide."
A port mortem examination will be performed later today. One lane of the eastbound side of the bridge was closed as investigations continued by the Los Angeles Police Department and the coroner's office.
Today colleagues and fans struggled to explain why the successful director, whose full name was Anthony David Scott, would commit suicide as many took to Twitter to post their tributes.
Over his successful career he directed more than two dozen movies and television shows and produced nearly 50 titles.
Friends told how he would always send personal, handwritten notes and "always drew a cartoon caricature of himself, smoking a cigar, with his hat colored in red".
Director Ron Howard, led tributes, saying: "No more Tony Scott movies. Tragic day."
Born in 1944, Scott went to art school where he became interested in cinematography. His first foray into films started as a teenager in front of the camera, starring in his older brother film Boy and Bicycle.
He later earned a masters degree from London's Royal College of Arts and directed the 1971 picture Loving Memory for the British Film Institute from an original script financed by Albert Finney.
After making a string of television commercials, he landed his first feature director's role in 1983 with The Hunger, a sexually charged vampire film starring Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon.
He would later become known for his behind the scenes work, in which he was known for his distinctive style to his films using fast editing and digital effects. He shot to fame in the 1980s with a string of action films.
But he never won critical aclaim or an Academy Award throughout his illustrious, with critics often dismissing his movies for emphasising style over substance.
Nonetheless his big-budget movies, mainly action thrillers, attracted some of Hollywood's biggest names including Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise, Eddie Murphy, Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Gene Hackman, Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt.
"The biggest edge I live on is directing. That's the most scary, dangerous thing you can do in your life," Scott said in 1995.
"The scariest thing in my life is the first morning of production on all my movies. It's the fear of failing, the loss of face and a sense of guilt that everybody puts their faith in you and not coming through."
He operated Scott Free Productions with his 74 year-old brother Ridley in Los Angeles almost 40 years after the pair formed London-based commercial production company Ridley Scott Associates.
Top Gun, a film about the US fighter jets starring Cruise and Kelly McGillis, was one of the highest-grossing films of the 1980s and quickly became a cult classic.
Since its release in 1986, it has grossed almost $354 million (£225 million) worldwide.
Top Gun's producers, Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, signed Scott to direct the movie after being impressed by a commercial he had done for Swedish automaker Saab in the early 1980s in which a car races a fighter jet.
The trio worked together again four years later on the NASCAR-set Days of Thunder, which also starred Cruise and his soon to become wife Nicole Kidman.
He believed the actor's youthful charm, optimism and never-ending energy would guarantee success.
"Tom can sit behind the wheel of a race car and smoke a cigarette and this movie will make a fortune," Scott once said.
"I went back and I stole from all race movies to date. I took the better elements, then tried to build on them. Really, the speed, the energy and the placement of the audience inside some of the cars came in the editing room. ...
"I'm always pushing for something new and fresh in the way things are shot, and the rest happens in the editing room. ... The real speed comes from the cutters and what they do with the celluloid."
Crimson Tide, the 1995 submarine thriller, was another blockbuster whose cast included Washington and Hackman. He directed Hackman and Smith three years later in Enemy of the State, an espionage thriller.
Scott frequently worked with Washington, most recently on the runaway train drama Unstoppable in 2010.
Scott and Washington collaborated on other films including Man on Fire, Deja Vu and The Taking of Pelham 123, which also starred John Travolta.
Other films included True Romance, Man On Fire, The Hunger, The Last Boy Scout, The Fan and Spy Game.
The Scott brothers were working jointly on a film called "Killing Lincoln," based on the best seller by Bill O'Reilly.
Their company also produced the CBS dramas "NUMB3RS" and "The Good Wife" as well as a 2011 documentary about the Battle of Gettysburg for the History
His most recent production with his brother was Coma, a four-hour medical thriller which was due for release next month.
He was also reported to be in production as the director of a film called Emma's War about a British aid worker in Sudan who marries a warlord seeking to control part of the country.
In 2002, the Scott brothers won an Emmy award for the television movie The Gathering Storm.
He said during an interview before the release of Taking of Pelham 123: "My whole career I’ve always tried to avoid CGI, whether it’s planes, cars or trains.
"It’s something in terms of the drama and the performances that gives me a reality and more of an edge.
"I like changing the pace of my life, changing my discipline. It gives me ideas for how to see the world differently."
Last year Cruise confirmed talks were underway about a sequel to the 1986 hit Top Gun that would see him reprise the role of fighter pilot Lt Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.
On the red carpet in Munich, Cruise confirmed he has been developing a script with Scott and producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
Cruise toured a Naval Air Station near Fallon, Nevada, last week preparing to film the sequel, according to local reports.
Completed in 1963, the 6,060-foot bridge, which spans San Pedro and Terminal Island in Los Angeles, is a known suicide spot. It has been used in movies including Charlie's Angels And The Fast and the Furious.