Tony Scott, Director of TOP GUN and MAN ON FIRE, Dies in Apparent Suicide [UPDATED with Reactions]

     August 19, 2012

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Tony Scott, the director behind films such as Top Gun, True Romance, The Last Boy Scout, Crimson Tide, and Man on Fire, has reportedly died after jumping off the Vincent Thomas Bridge near Long Beach on Sunday.  The U.S. Coast Guard told The Daily Breeze [via The Wrap] that “a suicide note was found inside Scott’s black Toyota Prius, which was parked on one of the eastbound lanes of the bridge.”  ABC News is now reporting that Scott had inoperable brain cancer.

Reports are still coming in, and we’ll be sure to update this story as we get more information.  This is shocking and tragic news, and our deepest condolences go out to Mr. Scott’s family and friends. [Updated with reactions from the Hollywood community as well as my own thoughts.]

Actors and filmmakers took to their Twitter accounts to mourn the loss:

Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson)
Taking a moment to reflect on Tony Scott’s life & work! My sympathies to his family. Feeling the loss!

Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward)
No more Tony Scott movies. Tragic day

Chris Rock ‏(@chrisrock)
Tony Scott director of my favorite movie man on fire. ” I wish you had more time ”

Simon Pegg (@simonpegg)
So sad to hear about Tony Scott. A master of grand action, nail biting pace and atmosphere. A real loss to film making.

Eli Roth (@eliroth)
RIP Tony Scott. Never knew him but always heard nothing but great things about him and I loved his films. Terrible loss for cinema.

Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake)
So sad to hear the news about Tony Scott. His movies made growing up more fun for me. My prayers and condolences to the Scott family.

Zachary Quinto (@ZacharyQuinto)
Met Tony Scott once. Thought we would meet again. Saddened by news of his passing. Grateful for the work he leaves behind. Peace to you sir.

tony-scott-denzel-washingtonEdgar Wright (@edgarwright)
I just woke up to hear about Tony Scott. Can’t believe it. As I hope was evident in my work, I was big fan of his. Rest In Peace, sir.

Joe Carnahan (@carnojoe)
Tony always sent personal, handwritten notes & always drew a cartoon caricature of himself, smoking a cigar, with his hat colored in red.

Rosario Dawson (@rosariodawson)
Tony Scott…. You left us too soon. How terribly sad. What a lovely, kind human being you were. I will love and miss you much. Blessings to your family. Rest In Peace.

Mark Romanek (@markromanek)
Tony Scott was incredibly encouraging to me at an early stage of my career. He was generous, gregarious & immensely talented. Sadness.

I understand the quick reactions, and I hope more people in the Hollywood community will soon write more detailed rememberances of Scott, like the one from David Krumhotlz [via EW] who starred on the TV series Numb3rs, which Scott produced:

So, I was delivering one of my long Math-based monologues (called Charlie-Visions on the Numb3rs set), in the first episode of Season 4, the one guest starring Val Kilmer, the one directed by the late great Tony Scott. I had come to know Tony as a warm, enthusiastic and whimsical general with great vision and pride for his work and for the art of action. He lit me from overhead, I had not been lit that way before on the show. I had big bushy long hair, that made it impossible to see my eyes, unless I was looking up and directly into the light. After a few takes, I still couldn’t get it right. It felt odd to look up while I was talking to the seated FBI agents in the room. Finally, Tony walked in and said, “David, just imagine that you’re talking to God. And God has all the money. In order to get the money, you gotta talk to God. GOD AND MONEY!!! GOD AND MONEY!!!” He skipped off set, in the way that he did, keeping me energized, and firmly strapped into his roller coaster ride of film making. He spent way more money than he should have on shooting that episode. He had ACTUAL Vietnamese gangbangers, whom he knew personally, play themselves on the show. He was wild and big and crazy and uncontrollable and he gave it his all, every moment, because he believed in his crew, his cast, and the show. It saddens me that something inside him told him to take his incredible life spirit away from us, from the film making community. May he rest in peace. What a great dude.

tony-scott-2Speaking purely as a critic, I’m not going to pretend that I liked Scott’s recent films.  I had turned him into a bit of a punchline because I thought he had gone overboard with aggressive editing and filters since Man on Fire, although Scott looked like he had started to reign it in with his last film, Unstoppable.  But Scott’s part in Hollywood history is undeniable because Top Gun was a game-changer (for better or worse) in defining the blockbuster from the mid-80s to the mid-90s.  He also directed some absolutely terrific movies in the 1990s.  True Romance is a landmark because it was one of Quentin Tarantino‘s introductions into mainstream Hollywood films, and it’s a fascinating to see another director handle Tarantino’s words.  The same goes for The Last Boy Scout, which I would argue is Shane Black‘s best script behind Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.  Tony Scott was a master of throwing Taylor Negron into helicopter blades.  And although it’s not a crowded genre, there hasn’t been a better submarine movie since Crimson Tide.

I always hoped the Tony Scott of the 1990s would return to us, but he went in a different direction, and it was never journeyman.  You had no doubt you were watching a Tony Scott picture.  And it will be a style that other filmmakers will continue to carry as we saw earlier this year when Daniel Espinosa took it for Safe House.  Scott’s influence will persist not only in his style, but in the number of young filmmakers he helped get their start.  Tony Scott’s legacy is much more than a shaky camera and washed out colors, and there’s a reason he’s receiving such fond remembrances today.

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