Tony Scott's family rejects reports of terminal cancer

Mystery remains over why Top Gun director jumped off Los Angeles bridge

The mystery surrounding the death of the celebrated film director Tony Scott deepened yesterday as his family hit back at American reports that his suicide had been prompted by a terminal illness.

The British filmmaker, whose work included Top Gun and True Romance, died in Los Angeles on Sunday in what is being treated as suicide. The broadcaster ABC soon after reported that he had been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer.

Scott's widow hit back yesterday. Donna Wilson told investigators that rumours of brain cancer were "absolutely false", according to the celebrity gossip site TMZ, adding that Scott had no other severe medical issues.

ABC News subsequently backtracked with another article headlined "Tony Scott Brain Cancer Report Appears in Doubt".

Few additional clues have emerged as to why the 68-year-old filmmaker would take his own life. A post-mortem examination has taken place, but the results could take up to two months to be released. Police have found a suicide note in his office, but the details have been kept private.

Scott, the younger brother of fellow director Ridley, whose films include Blade Runner and Gladiator, was working on the sequel to the Tom Cruise-led Top Gun at the time of his death. The star and the director of the 1986 blockbuster had been scouting locations for the movie.

Scott was also due to direct Narco Sub and Lucky Stripe, both of which were in advanced development, according to The Hollywood Reporter, with a remake of The Wild Bunch also mooted.

Ridley Scott, who worked with his brother on Scott Free Productions, suspended production of his film The Counselor and flew from London to Los Angeles on Monday.

In the wake of the tragedy, Cruise said the director was a "creative visionary whose mark on film is immeasurable" and said he was a "dear friend and I will really miss him".

The news of his death shocked Hollywood, and tributes for the director poured in from stars and directors including Denzel Washington, Ron Howard and Val Kilmer, who called him "the kindest film director I ever worked for". Harry Gregson-Williams who had composed the music for all of Scott's films since Enemy of the State, said he was a "truly unforgettable and formidable artist to work with".

One stunned film industry insider based in London said he had spoken to the director on Saturday, "and he had sounded fine".

According to the coroner, Scott jumped from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro just after midday on Sunday. Reports emerged yesterday that some onlookers had filmed the incident and had offered it to news agencies.

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