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|Also Known As:||Anthony D. L. Scott||Died:||August 19, 2012|
|Born:||June 21, 1944||Cause of Death:||Suicide (Blunt Force Injuries and Drowning)|
|Birth Place:||Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, GB||Profession:||director, executive, producer, painter|
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Often dismissed by some as Ridley Scott's more commercial brother, director Tony Scott established himself in the mid-1980s as one of mainstream Hollywood's more reliable and stylish action filmmakers. Not necessarily an auteur, Scott built a solid reputation as a skilled hired gun for producers Jerry Bruckheimer and the late Don Simpson on several of the highest grossing films, starting with "Top Gun" (1986), a high-concept action movie that made a mega-star out of the film's lead, Tom Cruise. Though he struggled a bit afterwards with over-the-top exercises in style over substance like "Days of Thunder" (1990) and "The Last Boy Scout" (1991), Scott managed to score a cult-like triumph with the underrated "True Romance" (1993), penned by rising indie filmmaker Quentin Tarantino. After helming the commercially viable action thriller "Crimson Tide" (1995), he directed "Enemy of the State" (1998), a rich and compelling political thriller that many considered to be the best film in the Scott canon. As he focused more on producing quality television movies and miniseries like "The Gathering Storm" (HBO, 2002) and "The Company" (TNT, 2007), Scott continued making stylish commercial films that often varied...
Often dismissed by some as Ridley Scott's more commercial brother, director Tony Scott established himself in the mid-1980s as one of mainstream Hollywood's more reliable and stylish action filmmakers. Not necessarily an auteur, Scott built a solid reputation as a skilled hired gun for producers Jerry Bruckheimer and the late Don Simpson on several of the highest grossing films, starting with "Top Gun" (1986), a high-concept action movie that made a mega-star out of the film's lead, Tom Cruise. Though he struggled a bit afterwards with over-the-top exercises in style over substance like "Days of Thunder" (1990) and "The Last Boy Scout" (1991), Scott managed to score a cult-like triumph with the underrated "True Romance" (1993), penned by rising indie filmmaker Quentin Tarantino. After helming the commercially viable action thriller "Crimson Tide" (1995), he directed "Enemy of the State" (1998), a rich and compelling political thriller that many considered to be the best film in the Scott canon. As he focused more on producing quality television movies and miniseries like "The Gathering Storm" (HBO, 2002) and "The Company" (TNT, 2007), Scott continued making stylish commercial films that often varied in terms of creative success, though his tragic suicide in August 2012 cut short a brilliant career that always managed to maintain significant audience interest.
Born on June 21, 1944 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, Scott was raised the youngest of three brothers by his father, who served in the British military, forcing the family to move from place to place, and his mother, Jean, an avid moviegoer who instilled a love of cinema into her children. Like his older brother, Ridley, he developed an aptitude for painting and art, which led to earning a fine arts degree from the School of Art at the University of Sunderland. After studying at the Leeds College of Art and Design for a year, Scott earned his master of fine arts in 1972 from the Royal College of Art, which he had attended on scholarship. He spent several years struggling as a painter, which he abandoned when he partnered with his brother in advertising at Ridley Scott Associates. It was there that he began shooting commercials. "I loved commercials because I was always shooting. I was actually getting to turn some film. And for the generation that I happen to be a part of, the adventures in advertising then were the same as what videos are today In its own way, advertising is as great an art form as documentaries or features," Scott remarked in a 1991 interview with Movieline.
In 1981, Scott made a striking feature directorial debut with "The Hunger," an arty vampire thriller starring Susan Sarandon, David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve. Widely panned for being overly stylized and lacking cohesive storytelling, "The Hunger" nonetheless attracted the attention of top Hollywood players. Scott's fortunes rose when he hooked up with high-flying producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, who asked him to helm the flyboy adventure, "Top Gun" (1986). At first, Scott had a different approach than Simpson and Bruckheimer; instead of making a commercially palpable movie, he wanted to direct "'Apocalypse Now' in the air." But the producers put that idea to bed and guided Scott to direct what became one of the signature films of the decade. High on adrenaline and possessing a pumping soundtrack, "Top Gun" also presented an entertaining love story between star Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis. The movie was punctuated by soaring special effects, gripping dog fights featuring F-14 fighter jets and macho posturing that some later ridiculed. Nonetheless, the film and its many classic scenes established Tom Cruise as the industry's most bankable movie star and Scott as a viable director.
Scott followed up by directing another bankable star, Eddie Murphy, in the competent sequel, "Beverly Hills Cop II" (1987), which depicted the wise-cracking Detroit cop, Axel Foley (Murphy), once again sent to L.A.'s enclave for the super wealthy to stop a series of violent high-end robberies. Though a moneymaker, "Beverly Hills Cop II" was a letdown after its wildly funny predecessor. Scott attempted a change of pace with "Revenge" (1990), a hard-edged crime thriller about an ex-Navy pilot (Kevin Costner) who grapples with a powerful Mexican crime lord (Anthony Quinn) over the love of a rich and beautiful woman (Madeline Stowe). While Scott battled with the studio over editing - to the point of almost being fired - the film failed to perform at the box office despite the star power of Costner. Meanwhile, he reunited with Simpson, Bruckheimer and Cruise for "Days of Thunder" (1990), a rather obvious attempt to recapture the success and machismo of "Top Gun" by telling essentially the same story set in the world of auto racing. Deemed a disappointment by most, the film still managed to gross $86 million, due mostly to Cruise's star wattage.
With "The Last Boy Scout" (1991), a brutal action picture starring Bruce Willis as an ex-Secret Service agent trying to help a retired football player (Damon Wayans) find his girlfriend's murderer, Scott attempted to recapture some of the zip he lost with his previous two efforts. But he overindulged in super-macho action, bad dialogue and stylistic tricks without purpose, resulting in a clichéd movie that once again failed to meet the box office expectations of having an A-list star in the lead. Scott reigned in the pomp and circumstance with his next effort, "True Romance" (1993), a love story wrapped in a crime thriller written by then-emerging director Quentin Tarantino. While much of the attention was lavished on Tarantino, who had just released his breakout heist-gone-wrong flick "Reservoir Dogs" (1992), Scott had a greater deal of control over the film than he previously had. Quirky, violent and boasting strong performances from Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette, who starred as a happy couple on the run from a crime boss (Christopher Walken) with a briefcase full of mafia cocaine, "True Romance" garnered some of the best reviews of Scott's career to date. Though box office totals at the time were lacking, the movie proved popular as a rental and built up a strong cult following with cinephiles over the years.
Reunited with Simpson and Bruckheimer for what proved to be the last time, Scott built on the creative success of "True Romance" to direct a compelling mainstream film, "Crimson Tide" (1995), a submarine-set thriller of nuclear brinkmanship that pitted two submarine officers (Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman) with different philosophies on how to engage a renegade Russian force that seized nuclear silos. A number of writers labored on the script without ultimately receiving screen credit, including Tarantino, who was brought aboard at Scott's insistence to punch up the dialogue. The final product emerged as the third highest grossing film of the year, while building upon the creative success Scott enjoyed with "True Romance." Also that year, he partnered with older brother Ridley to form the production company Scott Free, while together purchasing London's Shepperton Studios. After slipping back to his old ways with "The Fan" (1996), a much-derided psycho thriller starring Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes, Scott served as executive producer with his brother on the anthologized horror series, "The Hunger" (Showtime, 1997-2000), which was inspired by his first feature.
The following year, the Scott brothers co-produced the underrated "Clay Pigeons" (1998), a black comedy about a hapless country boy (Joaquin Phoenix) who is mistaken for being a serial killer. Also that year, Scott returned to the director's chair with "Enemy of the State," a gripping political thriller written by Aaron Sorkin about an attorney and family man (Will Smith) who gets unwittingly entangled in a web of political intrigue surrounding the murder of a U.S. senator. While Scott's indulgence in non-stop action undermined previous efforts, his thrill-a-minute approach served as the right approach in what became his best film since "True Romance." The film enjoyed brisk box office and terrific reviews - a vast improvement from his last feature.
Scott's critical stock went skyward again after executive producing with Ridley the Emmy-nominated drama, "RKO 281" (HBO, 1999), which was a somewhat fictionalized take on the making of Orson Welles' classic "Citizen Kane" (1941). After serving as executive producer on the unsuccessful Paul Newman caper comedy, "Where the Money Is" (2000), Scott directed the lackluster thriller, "Spy Game" (2001), which depicted a retiring CIA officer (Robert Redford) trying to free former protégé (Brad Pitt ) from a Chinese prison. In an attempt to recall the taut political thrillers of the 1970s, "Spy Game" failed to dig below the surface, resulting in a competent, but shallow film. In the new century, Scott stayed with producing, shepherding such well-received projects as "The Gathering Storm" (HBO, 2002), an intimate look at the relationship between Winston Churchill (Albert Finney) and his wife Clementine (Vanessa Redgrave) at the outset of World War II. After becoming one of several noted directors to helm stylish advertisements for BMW in 2002, he returned to feature filmmaking with" Man on Fire" (2004), a dependable revenge thriller about a private bodyguard (Denzel Washington) who embarks on a deadly mission of retribution when his 10-year-old client (Dakota Fanning) gets abducted. The film was a surprise box office success, reinforcing Scott's reputation as a hit-maker.
After several years of development, Scott finally brought his next project, "Domino" (2005), to the screen. Written by off-the-wall screenwriter Richard Kelly, the film transmogrified the already outrageous story of Domino Harvey, the real-life daughter of actor Lawrence Harvey who became an actual bounty hunter, into a hyperkinetic, hallucinogenic action movie. Starring an impressive cast that included Keira Knightley in the lead role, as well as Mickey Rourke, Edgar Ramirez and Delroy Lindo, among others, the film drew heavy criticism following its release for ignoring Harvey's bisexuality and drug use. In fact, just months before "Domino" hit theaters, Harvey was found dead in her West Hollywood apartment after an accidental drug overdose. Critics took a harsher view, suggesting that Scott's overwhelming stylization - a manipulated color scheme, frenetic cinematography and music video-style editing - proved irksome and undercut the actors' otherwise strong performances, while exploiting Harvey's story without exploring its more meaningful overtones. Meanwhile, Scott Free produced their second television series, "Numb3rs" (CBS, 2005-2010), a procedural about an FBI agent (Rob Morrow) who teams up with his mathematical genius brother (David Krumholtz) to solve various crimes.
Joining forces with Denzel Washington once again, Scott directed "Déjà vu" (2006), a surprisingly plodding action flick about an ATF agent (Washington) with the ability to sense impending danger who tries to save hundreds of innocent people from an explosion on a ferry. Back to producing with Scott Free, he helped air "The Company" (TNT, 2007), a large-scale miniseries that followed the birth of the Central Intelligence Agency at the dawn of the Cold War until the fall of the Soviet Union. Based on the spy thriller novel by Robert Littell, the miniseries earned several award nominations atop good critical reviews. Scott's production company turned out another award-nominated miniseries, "The Andromeda Strain" (A&E, 2008), the second screen adaptation of Michael Crichton's popular 1969 novel. Turning back to features, Scott directed "The Taking of Pelham 123" (2009), a remake of the 1974 movie about a subway dispatcher (Washington) whose world is thrown into chaos when a criminal mastermind (John Travolta) and his gang of thugs hijack a subway train for ransom.
Following that, Scott directed the action thriller, "Unstoppable" (2010), starring Washington and Chris Pine as two railroad engineers trying to stop a runaway train loaded with dangerous chemicals. The film performed well both with critics and at the box office. Meanwhile, the director began developing the sequel to "Top Gun," which attracted considerable attention, particularly when star Tom Cruise became interested in the project. But before the film could be launched into production, tragedy struck when Scott suddenly committed suicide on Aug. 19, 2012 by jumping off the Vincent Thomas Bridge in the San Pedro district of Los Angeles. Apparently Scott drove his vehicle to the bridge, parked in an eastbound lane, climbed a fence and, according to eyewitnesses, jumped "without hesitation." Police found the body a few hours later and confirmed Scott's identity while also later discovering a suicide note in his office. He was 68 years old, and left behind his wife, Donna, and twin sons.
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CAST: (feature film)
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There is an English actor named Tony Scott who appeared in Les Blair's "Number One/Street Wise" (1984); he is apparently not the filmmaker.
In 2002, the Scott brothers along with Michael Grade announced plans to construct a state-of-the-art "megastudio" in Toronto. According to the announced plans, construction would begin in March 2003 with an anticipated opening in spring 2004.
"As a director of commercials, Tony Scott has won virtually every major award in the field, including Clios from the New York Advertising Association, Gold and Silver Lions from the Cannes International Television/Cinema Commercials Festival and London's prestigious Designers & Art Directors Awards, among others." --From press kit for "Revenge" (1990)
"When I first read "Top Gun", I was thinking of doing something much darker, like "Apocalypse Now" in the air. But Simpson and Bruckheimer kept saying, 'nah, fuck no--you're wrong, you're wrong.' and I was wrong and they were right. I wanted to make it much deeper, but it's not a deep story." --From "Where the Boys Are" by Michael Angeli, Movieline (Winter 1991).
". . . A director's time on earth with his work is very limited. Very few manage to maintain the quality of their work. It's the fatigue--lifelong fatigue brought on by the necessity to keep fighting the studios. It's mental as well as physical and I think what happens to directors is they finally grow tired with fighting the studios constantly. It just gets too damn hard and they lose the quality and the edge. I hope it doesn't happen to me, but it just might and I'm aware of it constantly." --From "Where the Boys Are" by Michael Angeli, Movieline (Winter 1991).
"I've always been a hired gun to the studios, always having to deal with other people's ideas. [With 'True Romance,'] I was one of the producers on the movie, and so I had total creative control--for the first time in seven movies I was going down one avenue, which was, creatively, my avenue. It's been the best experience of my life." Movieline, September, 1993.
"You see, I'm perceived as being very sweet, but people think there's something a little dangerous about me, and therefore they usually don't fuck with me." --Scott to Movieline, June 1996.
"I tried to persuade MGM to ditch 'The Hunger' altogether and do the Anne Rice book ['Interview With the Vampire'] instead. Nothing doing. So I took a lot of the mood from the book and just brought it to 'The Hunger'. Before that movie came out, the word on it was so great that I got first crack at 'Starman,' the hot script at the time. Nobody had seen one foot of 'The Hunger,' but I snagged this plum project. I kept talking to the studio executives about 'Starman' in terms of movies like 'The Man Who Fell to Earth,' 'The Road Warrior,' 'Vanishing Point,' which terrified them. Well, the studio guys saw 'The Hunger' on a Tuesday evening and all had a heart attack, they hated it so much. I came into the studio Wednesday morning and my name on my parking space was whited out and security made me park in the general parking lot." --Scott to Movieline, June, 1996.
"Climbing it was like doing major drugs for three days." --Scott on climbing the 3,500-foot sheer face of Yosemite's El Capitan, quoted in Variety's on Production, June, 1997.
"My father is a more cerebral and considered director, and my uncle is much more instinctive . . . Tony is also much more American. He directs from his guts. They're very helpful, but they leave me alone. They maintain a distance so their influence over me is only there if I need it. Tony has amazing energy and that had been influential with me. I actually spend more time with him than I do my Dad. We mountain-climb together." --director Jake Scott, Ridley Scott's son and Tony Scott's nephew, to Variety's on Production, June, 1997.
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