Tony Scott: A man of action films, pure and simple

 

No one ever mistook Tony Scott for a great dramatist. He was a director critics loved to hate for his slick barrage of images at the expense of story. The filmmaker did not dazzle the imagination with visions of lost or alien worlds, like brother Ridley Scott.

Tony Scott was as populist as they come in Hollywood, a man of action films, pure and simple. From Tom Cruise as a daring fly boy in 1986's "Top Gun" to Denzel Washington mutinying against an unstable captain in 1995's "Crimson Tide" or trying to slow a runaway train in 2010's "Unstoppable," director Scott mastered sky, sea and earth in the name of movie adrenaline.

The 68-year-old Scott died Sunday after jumping from a Los Angeles County bridge, authorities said. His death was being investigated as a suicide, Los Angeles County Coroner's Lieutenant Joe Bale said.

It was a puzzling end for a filmmaker who had maintained a busy pace, with a sequel to "Top Gun," his biggest hit, in the works.

"I can confirm that Tony Scott has passed away. The family asks that their privacy is respected at this time," Scott's spokesman, Simon Halls, said in a statement.

The younger brother of Ridley Scott, whose Roman epic "Gladiator" won best-picture at the Academy Awards for 2000, Tony Scott was partners with his sibling in a production company, collaborating on film, TV and advertising projects.

But despite blockbuster success on some of his own movies, Tony Scott always was overshadowed by his brother, a three-time directing nominee at the Oscars whose films include "Alien," ''Blade Runner," ''Thelma and Louise" and this summer's "Prometheus."

Tony Scott never was in the running for an Oscar, and critics often slammed his movies for his hyper-kinetic style and an emphasis on style over substance.

Still, he was the first of the Scott brothers to enjoy blockbuster success with "Top Gun," the top-grossing film of 1986 at $176 million. Scott teamed with Cruise again four years later on the hit "Days of Thunder," and he made five films with Washington, including "Man on Fire," ''Deja Vu" and "The Taking of Pelham 123."

Other Scott films include "True Romance," written by Quentin Tarantino, "The Fan," with Robert De Niro, and "Enemy of the State," starring Will Smith.

While Ridley Scott had an auspicious start to his film career with 1977's acclaimed period drama "The Duellists" and 1979's "Alien," Tony Scott bombed with his debut, 1983's supernatural romance "The Hunger," with David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve.

He vaulted into Hollywood's top ranks the next time out, with "Top Gun," followed a year later by "Beverly Hills Cop II," both with producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

The two brothers ran Scott Free Productions and were working jointly on a film called "Killing Lincoln," based on the best seller by Bill O'Reilly. Along with countless commercials, their company produced the CBS dramas "NUMB3RS" and "The Good Wife" as well as a 2011 documentary about the Battle of Gettysburg for the History Channel.

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

AP

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