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Obituary: Tony Scott

Category: Entertainment

Published: 20th Aug 2012 10:39:46

Director Tony Scott, best known for action movies such as Top Gun and Man on Fire and the brother of fellow director Ridley Scott, has died aged 68 after jumping from a bridge in Los Angeles.

British director Tony Scott was born in North Shields, Northumberland in 1944 and grew up in West Hartlepool and Stockton-On-Tees.

A relative latecomer to filmmaking, he became famous for his fast-paced blockbusters and distinctive style of editing and digital effects, calling directing "the best job in the world".

He was the younger brother of Gladiator and Blade Runner director Ridley Scott, whose debut - a short film called Boy and Bicycle - he starred in at the age of 16.

Tony Scott originally intended to become a painter, after studying at West Hartlepool College of Art, completing a fine arts degree at Sunderland Art School and graduating from the Royal College of Art.

However the success of his older brother's television commercial production company, Ridley Scott Associates (RSA), changed his mind - especially when Ridley promised him he would earn enough to buy a Ferrari within a year.

The first feature film he directed was vampire romance The Hunger in 1983.

Starring David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve it was not a hit with critics, but did later go on to become a cult movie.

The biggest edge I live on is directing. That's the most scary, dangerous thing you can do in your life.”

However it did catch the attention of producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson who signed him up to direct Top Gun, after also seeing a commercial Scott made for Swedish car company Saab.

It showed one their cars racing a Saab 37 Viggen fighter jet.

Tony bounced back with Top Gun, becoming the first of the Scott brothers to enjoy blockbuster success. The film made a star of Tom Cruise and became the highest-grossing film of 1986, taking $176m (£112m) at the box office.

Its success propelled Scott onto Hollywood's A-list of action directors and he worked again with producers Simpson and Bruckheimer on 1987 Eddie Murphy sequel Beverly Hills Cop II, before directing Cruise for a second time on their big budget racing drama Days of Thunder in 1990.

Scott was an avid rock climber and liked driving fast cars and motorcycles, but he called filmmaking 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 an interview for his 1995 submarine thriller Crimson Tide.

"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."

Often behind the camera in his signature faded red baseball cap, the early 1990s also saw him direct action thriller The Last Boy Scout and True Romance, written by Quentin Tarantino.

Scott regularly collaborated with Oscar-winner Denzel Washington, directing the actor in Crimson Tide, Man on Fire, Deja Vu, The Taking of Pelham 123 and his most recent film Unstoppable.

The runaway train thriller featured the trademark hyper-kinetic action and editing that he had become known for.

He also directed Robert De Niro in The Fan, Will Smith conspiracy drama Enemy of the State, Spy Game and in 2005 oversaw Keira Knightley's action debut in Domino.

Brother Ridley Scott eventually went on to make bigger hits than his brother and earned a level of critical respect that resulted in three best-director Oscar nominations and a best-picture Oscar in 2000 for Gladiator.

Critics were harsher on Tony's films, accusing him of emphasising style over substance and he was never nominated for an Oscar.

He told the BBC in 2005: "I stopped looking at reviews after my first movie The Hunger, because I got slagged off so badly. They can be brutal.

"You know with my movies I reach for difference and I reach for change and I think - especially the American press - they're not up for change. They're too comfortable with what they know."

Together the brothers ran Scott Free Productions, responsible for countless commercials as well as CBS drama NUMB3RS and hit legal drama The Good Wife.

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. It gives me ideas for how to see the world differently," he said in a 2007 interview.

He claimed he was always taking advice from his brother and revealed they were "so very close in terms of family and business so we couldn't be on the same set".

He called Ridley's film Blade Runner one of his top three films of all time, and said: "I saw so much of our growing up in it, in terms of what he brought to the tone of the movie - which is rain!"

The Scott brothers also produced the 2010 remake of The A-Team and were working on a film called Killing Lincoln, based on the best seller by Bill O'Reilly.

Scott was married to actress Donna Scott, who appeared in several of her husband's films.

She was his third wife with whom he had twin sons.

At the time of his death, he was rumoured to be working with Tom Cruise on a sequel to Top Gun.

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BBC News, 2012. Obituary: Tony Scott [Online] (Updated 20th Aug 2012)
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