Tony Scott: Everything You Need to Know About the Late Director

E! News looks back at the late director's life and the many memorable moments he left us on the big screen

By Josh Grossberg Aug 20, 2012 7:54 PMTags
Tony ScottFrazer Harrison/Getty Images

Tony Scott was a showman.

As news of his apparent suicide on Sunday prompts mourning across Hollywood, E! News takes a look back at the seminal moments of the acclaimed director's life and films, many of which contain some of the best action, coolest shootouts and most memorable quotes in movie history.

The Family Business: Born June 21, 1944 in North Shields, Northumberland England, Scott was the youngest of three brothers. After starring at the age of 16 in older sibling Ridley Scott's debut short film, Boy and Bicycle, he followed in his brother's footsteps, graduating from the Royal College of Art.  He initially spent several years as a painter, but it wasn't long before Ridley came calling offering Tony a job shooting commercials at his burgeoning advertising business, Ridley Scott Associates.

A Hunger for Hollywood: After directing a slew of sleek TV ads, Tony eventually caught the eye of Tinseltown studios, specifically MGM, which hired him to helm the 1982 vampire thriller The Hunger starring David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve. While The Hunger drew harsh reviews from critics, it's since become a cult favorite, particularly among the Goth set, partly thanks to its stylish atmospherics and ahead-of-its-time MTV-style editing.

The Need for Speed: Following Scott's work on a slick Saab commercial he shot in which a car raced a fighter jet, producer Jerry Bruckheimer tapped Tony for a movie called Top Gun, featuring Tom Cruise. With its high-octane action and classic lines ("Sorry Goose, but it's time to buzz the tower"), Top Gun went on to become one of the highest-grossing films of 1986, earning $353 million worldwide. It also happened to be the first time Tony put on his signature red hat which he wore until the end of his life.

Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Films

In Demand: Following the success fo Top Gun, Scott went on to make 1987's Beverly Hills Cop II with Eddie Murphy as wisecracking fish-out-of-water detective Axel Foley. It was another huge moneymaker.

Life in the Fast Lane: The next decade saw Scott hone the fast-cutting style he became known for. In the 1991 summer hit, Days of Thunder, he reteamed with Cruise to recapture the cinematic magic and "need for speed' they'd honed on Top Gun. A tale of a NASCAR driver racing to victory, the blockbuster costarred Nicole Kidman, who would end up marrying Cruise.

The History of Romance: His 1993 film True Romance was a high-energy romp about two lovers (Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette) on the run from the mob. Written by Quentin Tarantino a year before he made Pulp Fiction, it featured an all-star cast that also included Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson, and a memorable exchange between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken's characters about the ancestry of Sicilian mobsters.

Hot Streak: The 1995 thriller Crimson Tide saw Scott team up with Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington aboard a submarine that made The Hunt for Red October seem like child's play. Scott reunited with Hackman for 1998's Enemy of the State, a conspiracy thriller which helped make Will Smith a box office superstar. Scott's 2004's vigilante drama, Man on Fire, saw him reignite his successful partnership with Washington, who also toplined the director's rare foray into sci-fi two years later with Deja Vu.

Some Misfires: Revenge, a romantic thriller Scott directed starring Kevin Costner and Madeleine Stowe, proved to be a flop at the box office. Scott followed a year later with 1991's The Last Boy Scout, a glossy action shoot 'em up pairing Bruce Willis with Damon Wayans that underperformed as well. Not a succcess, but The Fan was notable for Robert De Niro's frightening performance as a baseball nerd who takes the game and his favorite player (Wesley Snipes) way too seriously. Other films that underperformed still showed promise and style, such as 2001's CIA thriller Spy Games, starring Pitt and Robert Redford and 2005's bountyhunting Domino with Keira Knightley in the title role.

20th Century Fox

Two for the Road: Tony's final two features were again with Denzel Washington—2009's remake of The Taking of Pelham 123 with John Travolta and 2010's Unstoppable, featuring Washington and Chris Pine trying to stop a runaway train.

Tragic End: On Aug. 19, 2012: Scott apparently commits suicide at the age of 68 by jumping off the Vincent Thomas Bridge spanning Los Angeles Harbor in San Pedro. Authorities later found several notes to loved ones in Scott's car and a suicide note at his office, according to the Los Angeles County coroner. An autopsy is scheduled to be performed on Scott's body the next day. A source close to the famed filmmaker also tells ABC News that Scott "had inoperable brain cancer."

The Work He Left Behind: This "inspired craftsman," as Roger Ebert hailed him, was reportedly on board to direct Cruise again in a sequel to Top Gun that, per the Los Angeles Times. No word now on the status of that project of the more than 30 others that Scott had in development. Outside of his feature resume, Scott also served as a producer with Ridley through their Scott Free shingle. The duo produced such flicks as Prometheus, which the elder Scott directed, and the 1999 HBO drama RKO 281, as well as the upcoming TV miniseries, Coma, 2009's The Andromeda Strain, and such shows as Numb3rs and The Good Wife.