ABC News (coming to us via The Playlist) are reporting that Tony Scott had been diagnosed inoperable brain cancer. There is no word on when the diagnosis was or how it affected the events yesterday but we’ll bring you more as and when we get it. Once again, our thoughts are with his family at this tragic time.
Very sad news hit this morning as Tony Scott, the director of films such as Top Gun, True Romance and Man on Fire, has died at age 68. News sources inform us that the cause of death was suicide, the filmmaker was seen jumping from a bridge in California. The police have found two notes; one in his car and one in his office and the chief investigating officer has said “we have no reason to believe it is not a suicide.”
Tony Scott was the younger brother of Ridley Scott. Born in Northern England, Tony followed his brother into a career in the arts and joined Ridley’s production company, directing thousands of commercials. He then followed his brothers’ footsteps once more by moving to Hollywood in hope of directing features.
His first film was The Hunger, a vampire movie starring David Bowie which wasn’t received well critically. Scott did get his feet in the door though with the film and a few years later Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson, who were impressed with the work, came to offer him Top Gun. The film, which undoubtedly put his name on the map and made him one of Hollywood’s most sought after action filmmakers, was a massive success.
Due to his work on the film he continued a long and successful working relationship with Bruckheimer and Simpson, developing hits like Beverly Hills Cop II, Crimson Tide, Enemy of the State and Days of Thunder. While these never found the same level of critical success as Top Gun and though he was never held in as high regard as his brother, the films he made were nearly guaranteed box office successes. He also attracted a lot of actors who would happily collaborate with him numerous times, including Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise, Gene Hackman and Val Kilmer.
However, the critical success did come and the film which will go down in history as the definitive Tony Scott movie is True Romance. Director Quentin Tarantino (who scripted the film) said that Scott was the very best director for that project and has complete respect for the finished product, even though he never spent a day on set, which is high praise from the self confessed ego maniac.
The scene between Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper remains one of the most defining moments of 90’s cinema and the finest scene that Tarantino ever wrote, but it is in the execution where the scene really takes off. True Romance is a truly brilliant film and that is mostly due to Scott’s excellent direction.
To this day, despite the fact he never really found respect of the critics, Tony Scott has been a powerful influence on all Hollywood action movies since Top Gun. You only have to look at the work of Joe Carnahan, Edgar Wright, Michael Bay to see his lasting impact.
All that being said, he is equally important as a producer as he was as a director. Under the banner of Scott Free, Tony along with Ridley, put their clout behind some of the most fascinating film and TV projects of the last ten years. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Cyrus, The Good Wife, Into the Storm and The Gathering Storm are just a couple of examples of outsider projects that earned much praise.
Tony Scott may not have been the world’s greatest filmmaker, nor do I think that he was as talented as his elder brother, but the tributes flooding in from filmmakers this morning, those who were inspired by his work, show that he is a more important filmmaker than I myself have previously realised. The legacy that Tony Scott has left behind will never be forgotten.
Our thoughts and feelings are with the Scott family at this tragic time.