Home > Film > RIP: Tony Scott [UPDATED]

RIP: Tony Scott [UPDATED]

Sad and tragic news today as it is confirmed that acclaimed director Tony Scott has passed away at the age of 68. It appears the director took his own life… 

In sad and shocking news Monday morning,  we heard the confirmation that Tony Scott, the film director whose career spanned diverse projects such as True Romance,  Days of Thunder, The Last Boy Scout, Man on Fire, Crimson Tide, The Taking of Pelham 123, Dominj and Deja Vu has died, apparently committing suicide by jumping from the Vincent Thomas Bridge, the structure that spans San Pedro and Terminal island in Los Angeles.  

"I can confirm that Tony Scott has passed away. The family asks that their privacy is respected at this time," Scott's spokesman, Simon Halls, said in a statement.

According to Los Angeles Police Lieutenant Tim Nordquist, reports began coming in around 12:35pm Sunday that people had seen someone jump or fall into the water. Police, investigating the circumstances, found the film director's Toyota Prius parked on the bridge. Inside was a note listing contact information and a suicide note was later found at his office. Scott's body was recovered several hours later. 

Scott is one of a handful of directors that first helped redfine the thriller and action genres during the 1980s and 1990s. From his early childhood years, he and brother Ridley loved experimenting with film, making their own shorts. Tony went on to earn a Masters Degree from London's Royal College of Arts and subsequently directed Loving Memory for the British Film Institute ( from a script financed by Albert Finney). AHe began to make his name directing television commercials and then got his first feature film  in 1983 with The Hunger, a visually-exotic and sexually-charged tale of vampires which starred Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon – and which remains a milestone cult favourite today.

His career really took off – almost literally – in 1985 when producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer signed him to direct their upcoming story of fighter-pilots. After seeing an advert that Scott had done for Saab, in which a car races a jet, they felt that he was just the man for the job. The film was, of course, Top Gun which turned Tom Cruise into an A-List star and which went on to gross $176 million in the US alone. Scott would later reteam with Bruckheimer and Cruise for Days of Thunder

Nearly three decades of work followed, with Scott dividing his time between projects. He was not 'prolific', but worked consistently in various capacities on projects that interested him.  His latest  released film was Unstoppable featuring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine. It wasn't the best film of Scott's career, but the story of a runaway train still had all the action, speed and sheer momentum that were Scott's hallmark. In recent years he was also happy to alternate between the big screen and television, in producer or directing capacity. He was a respected hands-on producer – he and  brother Ridley's production company Scott Free produced several television shows including  the hit procedural Numb3rs which ran for five seasons (see its star David Krumholtz's touching tribute  here:  http://www.twitlonger.com/show/iudoq3 ) and the current legal drama The Good Wife. He was a producer on Ridley's controversial sci-fi outing Prometheus and was also an executive producer on the Liam Neeson thriller The Grey.

"Just heard about Tony Scott news. Horrible… Tony was a truly lovely man who took me under his wing & ignited my passion to make films." Duncan Jones, the director of Moon and Source Code tweeted and Ron Howard added that: ""No more Tony Scott movies. Tragic day.".  

“Tony Scott was a great director, a genuine friend and it is unfathomable to think that he is now gone. He had a tremendous passion for life and for the art of filmmaking and was able to share this passion with all of us through his cinematic brilliance. My family sends their prayers and deepest condolences to the entire Scott family," Denzel Washington said in a statement, released late Monday.

Personally, I first met Scott many, many years ago  in the bowels of what was then the luxurious  London's Planet Hollywood where he and his True Romance star Patricia Arquette granted myself and a colleague a private interview after the film's screening. Wearing that distinctive red baseball cap that perched on his brow throughout his career, he was a courteous, clever man with a dry wit and an intense love of films and film-making,  a person who probably didn't suffer fools gladly but also appeared to throughly enjoy the industry in which he worked and happiest behind the camera. Though Ridley Scott may have more headlines with more 'epic' material, there's a solid case to be made that Tony Scott could be just as good a craftsman when engaged in material he really loved. 

In an industry sometimes obssessed with CGI, he was a hands-on director, not afraid to spend time and effort to get things as he wanted them and who was outspoken about keeping a physicality to the medium, much prefering to have key-sequences shot in as realistic environment as pragmatically possible. 

Scott had several other projects on which he was in various stages of production or planning.  He served as an executive producer on the mini-series version of Michael Crichton's Coma, which will air in the States in early September and Stoker  (starring Mia Wasikowska and Nicole Kidman and written by Wentworth Miller) which is due for release in 2013. He and Ridley's Scott Free Productions were working with Bill O'Reilly on an adaptation of the Fox News pundit's book Killing Lincoln and Tony had also met with comics writer Mark Millar several times in connection with adapting the Nemesis comic. His name had also been linked with a remake of The Wild Bunch and a potential sequel to Top Gun.

[UPDATE]  Joe Carnahan, who now looks set to direct Nemesis, sent a series of tweets expressing his own reaction to Scott's passing:  “When we finally take the true measure of Tony’s Scott’s influence and talent, we’ll build monuments to what it meant to all of us…Tony always favored me with Monte Cristo #2′s, his smoke of choice, especially after he quit. I’ll burn an entire box tonight in his honor… ‘Man On Fire’ is a masterpiece. This is Tony on the cusp of 60, pulling off something that his peers would be at a loss to even attempt…I’ve been extremely fortunate in my career. A career I wouldn’t have without Tony Scott’s persistence, love and relentless support. Tony GAVE me my commercial career at a time when when the marquee should’ve said: “Films by Tony Scott, John Woo & Who The F*ck Is That Guy…” Tony’s influence on a generation of filmmakers is colossal. There isn’t a more commercially successful director who pushed the form like him…Tony Scott as a Director was Sui Generis. Tony Scott as a friend and a mentor was irreplaceable. Tone, wherever you are, I love you man. RIP.” 

Though it has not been officially confirmed and there are no autopsy reports filed as yet, it has been reported by a number of outlets that Scott had been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer which could have led to a debilitating mental condition and him deciding to end his life on his own terms. Late on Monday, his family released a statement casting doubt on this claim.

Tony Scott is survived by his wife actress Donna Scott and twin sons… he was 68.