Remembrances
4:15 am
Mon August 20, 2012

Director Tony Scott's Death Investigated As Suicide

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 12:50 pm

When people talk about Tony Scott's movies, the same words often come up: stylish, exuberant and kinetic. Three years ago, in a video interview with The Guardian, Scott explained why watching his movies could sometimes be exhausting.

"I have this natural energy that I want to inject into what I do," he said. "The worlds that I touch, I sort of embrace those worlds, and I always look for that energetic side of the worlds that I'm touching."

Scott died Sunday at 68, after leaping off a bridge into the Los Angeles Harbor.

He had gone to art school in London, but he followed his big brother, Ridley Scott, into the movies. He never became as famous or as successful as his brother, who directed Blade Runner and Alien. In fact, Tony Scott's very first movie, 1983's The Hunger, was a flop, though it eventually found a devoted cult audience. It starred Catherine Deneuve as a sultry vampire preying on Susan Sarandon

Scott actually started out as a star commercial director. He called his ads, one of which showed a Saab chasing after a jet, "rock 'n' roll." Producer Jerry Bruckheimer was so impressed that he invited Scott to direct what would become a massive blockbuster hit — 1986's Top Gun.

Critics called many of his later films, such as The Last Boy Scout and Beverly Hills Cop II, slick and insubstantial. But Scott later received praise for another cult favorite, 1993's True Romance, which was written by an unknown Quentin Tarantino with a cast that included a then-obscure Brad Pitt, and James Gandolfini playing a vicious hit man.

Three years before he died, Tony Scott told The Guardian about the pleasure he took in making high-adrenaline films.

"It's not draining," he said. "It's exhilarating. I function off fear, and the most scary thing I do in my life is actually shooting movies."

It was, he told the interviewer, a good fear.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREEN, HOST:

Fans of movies like "Top Gun," "Days of Thunder," and "Crimson Tide," are remembering director Tony Scott this morning. He died yesterday after jumping off a bridge into the Los Angeles Harbor. He reportedly left behind a suicide note. NPR's Neda Ulaby has this remembrance.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: When people talk about Tony Scott's movies, the same words come up repeatedly - stylish, exuberant, kinetic. Three years ago, in a video interview with the newspaper The Guardian, he explained why watching his movies could sometimes be exhausting.

TONY SCOTT: I have this natural energy that I want to inject into what I do. And then the world that I touch I sort of embrace, as well as I always look for that energetic side of the world that I'm touching.

ULABY: Tony Scott started as a star commercial director. He called the ones he made rock and roll. (Unintelligible) showed a car chasing a jet.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMMERCIAL)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Nothing on Earth comes close.

ULABY: Producer Jerry Bruckheimer was so impressed, he invited Scott to direct what would become a massive blockbuster, 1986's "Top Gun."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TOP GUN")

TOM CRUISE: (as Maverick) Whoo! Rock and roll. (Unintelligible), this is a big one, Goose.

ULABY: Tony Scott went to art school in London, but he followed his big brother into the movies. He never became as famous or as successful at Ridley Scott, who directed "Blade Runner" and "Alien," and his very first movie was a flop. It started Catherine Deneuve as a sultry vampire preying on Susan Sarandon.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE HUNGER")

CATHERINE DENUEVE: (as Miriam Blaylock) You belong to me.

SUSAN SARANDON: (as Sarah Roberts) We belong to each other.

DENUEVE: (as Miriam Blaylock) You'll be back. You'll be back.

ULABY: "The Hunger" from 1983, eventually found a devoted cult audience. Critics called many of his later films such as "The Last Boy Scout," and "Beverly Hill Cop, Part 2," slick and insubstantial. But Scott was praised for another cult favorite. 1993's "True Romance," was written by an unknown Quentin Tarantino, with a cast that included a then-obscure Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini playing a vicious hit man.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE "TRUE ROMANCE)

JAMES GANDOLFINI: (as Virgil) That hurts, don't it?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as Character) Uh huh.

GANDOLFINI: (as Virgil) Now, where's our coke, where's Clarence?

ULABY: Three years before he died, Tony Scott told The Guardian newspaper about the pleasure he took in making high-adrenaline films.

SCOTT: It's not draining, it's exhilarating. So I (unintelligible) fear and the most scary thing I do with my life is actually shooting movies.

ULABY: It was he told the interviewer, a good fear. Tony Scott was 68 years old. Neda Ulaby NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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