LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – British-born filmmaker Tony Scott, director of such Hollywood blockbusters as “Top Gun” and “Crimson Tide,” jumped to his death on Sunday from a bridge over Los Angeles Harbor, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office said.
Onlookers saw Scott, who was 68, parking his car on the Vincent Thomas Bridge and leaping into the water below at about 12:30 p.m. local time (1930 GMT), according to Lieutenant Joe Bale, a watch commander for the coroner’s office.
Bale said the body was recovered by law enforcement from the harbor shortly before 3 p.m. and was subsequently identified as being that of the filmmaker and younger brother of fellow movie director Ridley Scott.
A note was found in Scott’s car that Bale said he believed would turn out to be a suicide note, though he was not familiar with its contents. “Typically, when they find a note in cases like this, it’s not a shopping list,” he said.
The bridge, the surface of which clears the harbor’s navigation channel by a height of about 185 feet, connects the port district of San Pedro at the southern tip of Los Angeles to Terminal Island in the harbor.
A spokeswoman for the filmmaker, Katherine Rowe, said in a brief statement, “I can confirm that Tony Scott has indeed passed away,” adding only, “The family asks that their privacy be respected at this time.”
Scott, born in North Shields, Northumberland, in England, and frequently seen behind the camera in his signature faded red baseball cap, is credited with directing more than two dozen movies and television shows and producing nearly 50 titles.
He was best known for muscular but stylish high-octane thrillers that showcased some of Hollywood’s biggest stars in a body of work that dated back to the 1980s and established him as one of the most successful action directors in the business.
He got his start making TV commercials for his older sibling’s London-based production company, Ridley Scott Associates, and segued into movies for television and film.
His feature directorial debut – 1983 vampire movie “The Hunger” starring British rocker David Bowie and French actress Catherine Deneuve – was a flop. But he bounced back three years later with the fighter jet adventure “Top Gun,” which starred Tom Cruise as a hot-shot pilot and followed that with another big hit, the 1987 Eddie Murphy comedy “Beverly Hills Cop II.”
Other notable directing credits include the 1990 racing drama “Days of Thunder,” which also featured Cruise, the 1995 submarine thriller “Crimson Tide,” co-starring Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman, and the 1998 spy thriller “Enemy of the State,” which paired Hackman and Will Smith. The 2001 espionage drama “Spy Game” teamed Robert Redford with Brad Pitt.
Denzel Washington became Scott’s most frequent star, appearing in four other films by the director – the 2004 vengeance drama “Man on Fire,” 2006 sci-fi adventure “Deja Vu,” a 2009 remake of “The Taking of the Pelham 1 2 3,” a subway hostage thriller co-starring John Travolta, and the 2010 runaway-train blockbuster, “Unstoppable.”
Scott and his older brother were executive producers together on two successful prime-time television dramas, “Numb3rs,” which ran on CBS from 2005 to 2010, and “The Good Wife,” which premiered in 2009 and is still running in CBS.
According to the Hollywood website Internet Movie Database, Tony Scott had been 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.
Scott is survived by his third wife, Donna, with whom he had two children.
(Reporting and writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Paul Simao and Patrick Graham)
By Steve Gorman