‘Top Gun’ Director Dead in Apparent Suicide
By Chelsea J. Carter and JD Cargill, CNN
LOS ANGELES (CNN) — Director Tony Scott, best known for the films “Top Gun” and “Beverly Hills Cop II,” died in an apparent suicide Sunday when he jumped from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro, California, an official with the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office told CNN.
“There’s nothing to indicate it is anything else at this time,” said Lt. Joe Bale of the coroner’s office.
Scott, 68, jumped from the bridge at about 12:30 p.m., Bale said. The bridge spans the 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.
The coroner’s office declined to comment or confirm a Los Angeles Times report that authorities found contact information in Scott’s car parked on the bridge, and later found a suicide note in his office.
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.
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 movie.
“Tony Scott was a sweet enthusiastic & lovin man,” Rapaport said.
In the 1990s, 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 news of his death.
“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 him 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.”
He 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 later this year.
— JD Cargill reported from Los Angeles; Chelsea J. Carter, from Atlanta. CNN’s Greg Morrison, Holly Yan and Ed Payne contributed to this report.