LOS ANGELES - Tony Scott, the director of "Top Gun" and production partner of brother Ridley Scott, died Sunday after jumping from a bridge near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California. He was 68.
Authorities found a note in the car Mr. Scott drove onto the bridge, Los Angeles County Coroner Lt. Joe Bale said in an interview. He jumped around 12:30 p.m. local time Sunday and his body was retrieved around 3 p.m., Mr. Bale said.
"At this point we are investigating this as a suicide," Mr. Bale said. "There is nothing to lead us to believe otherwise. A note was left in the car."
ABC News reported today that Mr. Scott learned he had inoperable brain cancer hours before his death.
British-born Scott is best known for directing "Top Gun," the 1986 movie that starred Tom Cruise as a risk-taking naval aviator at an elite flight school.
Los Angeles Times writer Steven Zeitchik wrote about Mr. Scott's tenacity in bringing "Unstoppable," the runaway-train film starring Denzel Washington and shot partly in Western Pennsylvania, to the screen.
"I was reporting on the troubled project ??? and was struck by how often I heard the sentiment from people on all sides that, essentially, 'Tony really wants this. It would have gone away a long time ago if not for him.'
"And sure enough, after much back-and-forth and hammering out of budgets and deals, the movie was greenlit, then produced and released.
"Scott's instincts were right. With $81 million in domestic box office, the Washington-Chris Pine movie became Scott's largest grosser in more than a decade. It was also well-reviewed, garnering an 86 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, his best-regarded film in 15 years."
Mr. Scott's directing credits also include "The Last Boy Scout" and 2009's "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3." He was a partner with his older brother in Scott Free Productions, which made television's "The Good Wife" and dozens of films.
"I can confirm that Tony Scott has indeed passed away," his publicist, Simon Halls, said in an e-mail. "The family asks that their privacy be respected at this time."
Mr. Scott jumped from the Vincent Thomas Bridge, according to Mr. Bale, a 1,500-foot-long suspension bridge that crosses Los Angeles Harbor, linking the San Pedro section of Los Angeles with Terminal Island and the Port of Long Beach. The distance from the bridge to the navigation channel is about 185 feet.
The Hollywood Reporter reported in April that Mr. Scott would direct "Top Gun 2," with Cruise reprising his role as Maverick and Jerry Bruckheimer repeating as producer, citing Paramount Pictures executive Adam Goodman. Cruise toured a Naval Air Station near Fallon, Nev., last week preparing to film the sequel, local television station KOLO-TV reported on its website Friday.
Anthony David Scott was born on June 21, 1944 in North Shields, England, an industrial coastal town in the northeast part of the country, according to Imdb.com. At 16 he starred in "Boy and Bicycle," the first filmmaking effort of his brother Ridley, seven years his elder, according to the website.
After graduating from the Royal College of Art in London, Scott directed thousands of television commercials, mostly for Ridley Scott, according to Imdb.
Tony Scott's first feature film, "The Hunger," was a critical and commercial disappointment. He waited three years to direct "Top Gun," which cemented Cruise's status as a major star and established Scott as a director known for exquisitely choreographed action. He went on to make movies including "Crimson Tide" in 1995, "Enemy of the State" in 1998 and "Man on Fire" in 2004.
Scott Free, the brothers' London-based producing partnership, lists more than 30 movie credits, including 2010's "Cyrus" and "American Gangster," directed by Ridley Scott and starring Denzel Washington, another actor often cast by Tony Scott.
Imdb lists more than 30 projects in development for Tony Scott, mostly in a producing role. His unexpected death comes with several directing projects in the works. In addition to "Top Gun 2," those include "Narco Sub," a nuclear thriller scheduled for release in 2013 by News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox, "Emma's War," about a British aid worker in Sudan, and "Hell's Angels," about the motorcycle gang, according to the website.
Twice divorced, Mr. Scott married his current wife, actress Donna W. Scott, in 1994. The couple has two children, according to Imdb.com.
First Published August 20, 2012 2:30 PM