Tony Scott, director of such Hollywood hits as Top Gun, Days of Thunder and Beverly Hills Cop II, died Sunday after jumping from a towering suspension bridge spanning Los Angeles harbour and leaving behind several notes to loved ones, authorities said.
The 68-year-old Scott's death was being investigated as a suicide, Los Angeles County Coroner's Lt. Joe Bale said.
"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.
An autopsy is scheduled for Monday, coroner's Chief of Operations Craig Harvey said. He said investigators located several notes to loved ones that Scott left in his black Toyota Prius and at another location, but that they were not described in initial reports as suicide notes. He said Scott parked his car at the crest of the bridge before leaping to his death.
Several people called 911 around 12:35 p.m. local time Sunday to report that someone had jumped from the Vincent Thomas Bridge spanning San Pedro and Terminal Island in Los Angeles Harbor, according to police Lt. Tim Nordquist.
A dive team with Los Angeles Port Police pulled the body from the murky water several hours later, Nordquist said. Scott's body was taken to a dock in Wilmington and turned over to the county coroner's office.
The British-born Scott, who lived in Beverly Hills, was producer and director Ridley Scott's younger brother. Distinct visual styles mark both siblings' films — Ridley Scott mastering the creation of entire worlds with such films as Gladiator, Blade Runner, Alien and this year's Prometheus, Tony Scott known for hyper-kinetic action and editing on such films as his most recent, the runaway train thriller Unstoppable, starring regular collaborator Denzel Washington.
'The biggest edge I live on is directing...The scariest thing in my life is the first morning of production on all my movies' —Tony Scott
Scott was a thrill-seeker himself in his personal life, an avid rock climber who also liked driving fast cars and motorcycles. Still, filmmaking was his real thrill.
"The biggest edge I live on is directing. That's the most scary, dangerous thing you can do in your life," Scott said in a 1995 interview. "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."
Scott was as populist as they come in Hollywood, a man of action films, pure and simple. From Tom Cruise as a daring fly boy in 1986's Top Gun to Washington mutinying against an unstable captain in 1995's Crimson Tide, director Scott mastered sky, sea and earth in the name of movie adrenaline.
His death was a puzzling end for a filmmaker who had maintained a busy pace, with a sequel to Top Gun, his biggest hit, in the works. Scott was partners with his sibling in a production company, collaborating on film, TV and advertising projects.
But despite blockbuster success on some of his own movies, Tony Scott always was overshadowed by his brother, a three-time directing nominee at the Oscars.
Blockbusters with Cruise, Washington
Tony Scott never was in the running for an Oscar, and critics often slammed his movies for his hyper-kinetic style and an emphasis on style over substance. Still, he was the first of the Scott brothers to enjoy blockbuster success with Top Gun, the top-grossing film of 1986 at $176 million US.
Scott teamed with Cruise again four years later on the hit Days of Thunder, and he made five films with Washington, including Man on Fire, Déjà Vu and The Taking of Pelham 123. Other Scott films include True Romance, written by Quentin Tarantino, The Fan, with Robert De Niro, and Enemy of the State, starring Will Smith.
While Ridley Scott had an auspicious start to his film career with 1977's acclaimed period drama The Duellists and 1979's Alien, Tony Scott bombed with his debut, 1983's supernatural romance The Hunger, with David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve. He vaulted into Hollywood's top ranks the next time out, with Top Gun, followed a year later by Beverly Hills Cop II, both with producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
The two brothers ran Scott Free Productions and were working jointly on a film called Killing Lincoln, based on the best seller by Bill O'Reilly. Along with countless commercials, their company produced the CBS dramas NUMB3RS and The Good Wife as well as a 2011 documentary about the Battle of Gettysburg for the History Channel.
Tony Scott said he gained perspective by mixing things up between film, TV and commercials.
"I like changing the pace of my life, changing my discipline," he said in a 2007 interview. "It gives me ideas for how to see the world differently."
Scott was married to actress Donna Scott, his third wife, and was father of their twin sons, Frank and Max.