“True Romance,” “Crimson Tide,” “Spy Game,” “Man on fire,” “Pelham 123” and “Unstoppable.” His films had a voice, the director’s imprimatur evident across his entire opus (multiangle camera work allowing for wide coverage, extremely cadenced action scenes–”Domino” is a good example of that–and a succession of big-name actors who never missed a chance to return and act in one of Tony’s movies). Tony Scott made a vital contribution to filmmaking. Tony Scott is no more. The English filmmaker died yesterday by committing suicide, he jumped from a bridge near his home in California.
Scott spent eight years in art school as painter, his original vocation. But after helping his brother Ridley make his thesis project film at university, things took a different course for him. He started shooting commercials and music videos, later moving to feature filmmaking. Scott’s first official film stands far in form and substance from the mainsteam thrillers which later defined his career: the haunting and dolorous, but exquisite, “The Hunger,” which starred none other than Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie–not a bad casting for a first movie.
Scott’s Hollywood career went off with a bang after this, directing the first blockbuster releases of the legendary but short-lived Simpson-Bruckheimer partnership, namely, “Top Gun,” and “Crimson Tide.” Scott helped put the fledgling studio on the map; Bruckheimer continued thriving while Simpson disintegrated in a ball of fire. The partnership continued but eventually petered out after the massive flop of “Days of Thunder.” One might say “Days” could’ve been a turning point in Scott’s career trajectory: the films that followed were all commercial disasters and I wonder if that did not haunt him. More recent films like “Déjà vu” and “Taking of Pelham 123” were well-received critically and did decently well at the box-office; Tony Scott had managed a soft comeback.
One of the features of Tony Scott’s career in film was the fact that he often picked the same actor twice, sometimes more, but none as often as Denzel Washington, whom he cast in five different projects. In fact, Denzel was attached on Tony’s first ever project, along with Gene Hackman.
And yet, in spite of a varyingly successful career Tony Scott always seemed to play second fiddle to his older, and more successful, brother, Ridley Scott, he of “Prometheus”; Tony was on board as producer of the film. How much of this potential insecurity was part of Scott’s ethos, we may never know. His self-avowed fear of failure was a leitmotiv of his. He called himself a “fear junkie” in several interviews.
“Prometheus” wasn’t Tony Scott’s only gig in the producer’s chair. The English director extensively worked as a film and television producer, helping prop up some very successful films. A sequel to “Top Gun” had recently been announced, its future now hanging in the balance. Tony Scott’s last production will be “Coma” which is a TV series due out this September. He was 68. He leaves behind a wife and two young sons (visit our Facebook page for a gallery of Scott and his family as well with Denzel Washington, Val Kilmer, etc.).
Here’s a December interview of him (below), in which, in his usual candid manner, he reveals a lot (but not everything) about the filming of “Unstoppable.” When mention is made of his age, indirectly, he responds with enthusiasm, “I’m strong as a bull, I’m English stock.” Shortly after his body was found this past weekend, it was revealed that Scott had been recently diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer.