Tim Walker: Ridley's enduring bond with the brother who smoked cigars for breakfast

Tony Scott inspired great affection from his family and crew

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The Independent Online

Tony's Scott's films were famously testosterone-fuelled, and he was as manly as they come. Scott's idea of relaxation was to scale sheer rock-faces and ride motorcycles. He collected Harleys and Ferraris, is said to have run every day, slept three hours each night, and breakfasted on black coffee and cigars. Nothing, he would say, can capture the thrill of clinging to a craggy precipice without support. Nevertheless, he told an interviewer, "The biggest edge I live on is directing. That's the most scary, dangerous thing you can do in your life."

When I interviewed Ridley Scott, Tony's older brother, this year, he said, "Tony's very macho. He'll still climb bloody El Capitan; I tell him he's a f***ing idiot." El Capitan is a 3,000ft vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park: a daunting challenge for any climber, let alone a 68-year-old.

The Scotts, who grew up in North Shields – and retained their Geordie accents – were always close, personally and professionally. Their older brother, Frank, a shipping captain, died of cancer in 1980. Ridley's first short film, Boy and Bicycle, starred 16-year-old Tony, riding the streets of West Hartlepool, and in 1967, Ridley set up his TV advertising firm and lured his brother to join him by promising he'd have enough money to buy his first Ferrari within a year.

The younger Scott directed countless commercials, funding Ridley's forays into feature films. Later, after both became Hollywood power-brokers, they bought Shepperton Studios, and established their own film and TV production company.

Tony was a mentor to young filmmakers. He gave Quentin Tarantino his break, by buying and directing the unknown video store employee's screenplay, True Romance. Tarantino used the proceeds to produce his directorial debut, Reservoir Dogs. Director Duncan Jones shot his sci-fi debut Moon at Shepperton, and said yesterday: "Tony… took me under his wing and ignited my passion to make films."

Bobette Buster was Scott's creative development executive for seven years, and instrumental in his discovery of Tarantino. "Tony was exceptionally generous with his success," she said yesterday. "He'd gift anyone who contributed to his film during production, no matter how lowly their position, with extravagant items, such as Il Bisonte luggage, wine or massive bouquets of flowers. Scott smoked Churchill cigars shipped from London, and he loved to share them."

He inspired great affection and loyalty in his crews, Buster said. "He always wore the same all-pink outfit: a worn pink baseball cap, pink t-shirt and pink shorts with mountain boots. On the last day of production, his crew would show up in the same get-up."