Film-makers and fans were in shock on Monday after learning that Tony Scott, director of action thrillers Top Gun and Days of Thunder, had jumped to his death from a California bridge. Police and the US Coast Guard pulled the 68-year-old’s body out of the water near the Vincent Thomas Bridge over the Los Angeles Harbour on Sunday, the LA County coroner’s office said, reports AFP.
ABC News had reported that Scott had been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer but according to TMZ Scott’s widow, actor Donna Wilson, told investigators that rumours that her husband suffered from a brain tumour were “absolutely false” and that he did not suffer from any serious illness. Investigators, however, did find a suicide note in his office, the Los Angeles Times reported. Its contents however, have not yet been revealed.
Scott, who was born in Britain in 1944, made his mark in the mid-1980s when he directed Top Gun, an action-filled blockbuster about elite navy pilots featuring then-rising star Tom Cruise. It was one of the highest-grossing films of 1986, taking in more than $176 million and giving a major boost to Scott’s and Cruise’s careers.
The British film-maker sought out Cruise again in 1990 when he started working on Days of Thunder, another thriller exposing the rough-and-tumble world of NASCAR stock car racing that raked in nearly $158 million.
“Tony was my dear friend and I will really miss him,” Cruise said in a statement sent to AFP via email by his spokeswoman.
“He was a creative visionary whose mark on film is immeasurable. My deepest sorrow and thoughts are with his family at this time.”
Director Marc Webb, whose latest film is The Amazing Spider-Man, called Scott a “legend”, while Michael Moore hailed Scott’s True Romance – one of Scott’s more audacious films. “True Romance, the scene with Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper in a Detroit railyard is a classic. RIP Tony Scott,” Moore said.
Scott also directed Enemy of the State, Beverly Hills Cop II, Spy Game, Unstoppable and Crimson Tide, a submarine thriller starring Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington. Val Kilmer, who co-starred in Top Gun, called Scott “the kindest film director I ever worked for” in a post on Twitter. “No more Tony Scott movies. Tragic day,” tweeted director Ron Howard.
On the other hand, Bollywood film-makers and actors also mourned the great director’s death. “RIP Tony Scott. Your true romance with cinema will live on forever,” tweeted Indian film-maker Karan Johar. Madhur Bhandarkar, a film-maker known for painfully realistic films like Fashion, tweeted “I’m shocked to hear about my favourite The Unstoppable film-maker Tony Scott’s demise.” NDTV also quoted Actor Neha Dhupia as saying, “The loss of another film genius. He made action look so pleasant.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2012.