This article is a combination of what you may have heard, and what you may not have imagined.
The news of acclaimed director Tony Scott’s suicide has shocked many, especially those of us he has entertained for so many years. On August 19th 2012 at approximately 12:30 pm PDT, Tony Scott (brother of famed director Ridley Scott), committed suicide by jumping off the Vincent Thomas Bridge in the San Pedro district of Los Angeles, California. A 1,500-foot (460 m) long suspension bridge. He had left a note in his car (a black Toyota Prius), and at his office. According to eyewitness testimony Scott appeared nervous before he jumped but he did not hesitate. His body was later recovered by the Los Angeles police.
The next day, ABC news reported Scott had inoperable brain cancer, but they later backtracked the story by expressing doubt (a simple apology would have been better) after Scott’s widow told investigators that the cancer was “absolutely false.” On August 24th, the LA County Coroner’s spokesman stated that the two notes Scott left behind, a contact list in his car and a message to his family at his office (that has since been described to TMZ by sources familiar with the investigation as containing a “short but sweet” message of love to his wife and 2 kids), did not provide any motive explaining why he took his own life and did not refer to any illness, disease or other health issues.
He certainly made his own choice. But why? We may never know. But for someone as large as life as Tony Scott, it is likely that whatever brought him to such a tragic end was also very large, at least from Scott’s point of view. As a director, point of view is very important. Whatever the reason behind his tragic death, it is safe to say that a point of view overwhelmed Tony Scott. And his view led him to jump.
Tony Scott had something of a history with the Vincent Thomas Bridge. In 2010 he filmed scenes for the runaway-train thriller Unstoppable at a railroad yard just beneath the bridge. In 2009 he talked about doing a remake of the 1979 cult classic film The Warriors, telling Rotten Tomatoes, “I’m hoping to get 100,000 real gang members standing on the Vincent Thomas Bridge for one shot. I’ve been meeting the various gangs as part of the research. I’ve met them all: Crips, Bloods, The 18th Street Gang, The Vietnamese and so on. They all love The Warriors, so it was, “Yeah, fuck yeah, we’ll be in that!” Imagine that, 100,000 real gang members all standing together in one shot without fighting one another. I hope some day somebody does it for Tony Scott, as well as for the gangs themselves . Juggling Multiple Projects in the Air at Once
As late as August 17th Scott met with Tom Cruise in Nevada, touring a naval air station in research mode for their planned sequel to the film “Top Gun.” But before doing the Top Gun sequel, Scott was expected to direct 20th Century Fox film “Narco Sub,” which centers on a disgraced U.S. naval officer forced to pilot a submarine carrying a payload of cocaine to America. Another project was a mob thriller called “Postdamer Platz” which had Mickey Rourke attached. Scott was also prepping “Lucky Strike,” an 80 million dollar project set in the world of jet repossession, with Vince Vaughn and Emmett/Furla films. He was also preparing to produce a Science-fiction drama called “Ion” and had served as executive producer on “Stoker” set to come out in March. He had recently completed filming “Out of the Furnace,” a drama he was producing about an ex-con, starring Christian Bale, set to come out next year. And he had recently helped to produce “Prometheus” for his brother Ridley Scott.
All the above is true; I didn’t make it up. The information is taken from multiple reports about his death. (If they got something wrong, that’s their doing.)
Tony Scott was known for his relentless drive. Many different directors have juggled multiple projects at once, but Tony Scott appears to have pushed his number of projects to the limits, if the above is any indication of how he normally operated. Imagine the amount of money and the number of people involved in projects of this size and quality.
It is only too easy to say, “only a woman can bring someone like Scott down, only a broken heart,” or “maybe it was depression,” or that going out the way he did shows that “he just wanted attention.” I think Tony Scott deserves a better story than that, something a bit more fitting. He gave us larger than life stories. So here is some large speculation. I really don’t believe in conspiracies or the ignorance behind looking at “history as conspiracy.” But let’s use our imaginations for just a minute. Let’s consider some things…
With a guy like Tony Scott, with the kind of movies and research he’s been involved in over the years, he can’t help but get connections and find out some things can he? I mean look at some of his films: “Enemy of the State”; “Spy Game”; “Domino”; “Man on Fire,” and so on (some of my personal favorites of his are “The Last Boy Scout” and “Spy Game”). Think about them. You really have to know some things to pull off films like that. Do you really think that a guy like Tony Scott only makes friends and happiness wherever he goes? What kind of enemies might he have made over the years? What kind of pressures might Tony have had? I’m not suggesting anyone murdered him. He clearly threw himself off the Vincent Thomas Bridge. But pressure can get to some people. Some people might eventually convince themselves that self-destruction is the only solution to their problems. Everyone with half a brain these days knows the country is struggling and the government isn’t really doing what it should be doing – to say the least. What might that mean and how might their problems even indirectly impact a guy like Tony Scott who is knee deep into heavy subjects and far into “big money”? What was his problem? What was the problem related to? It is upsetting and disappointing for us that he chose to end his life. We may never know the reason why. It is interesting to fantasize about though, as long as we keep it within fantasy. Tony Scott has a lot to tell us about not allowing our point of view to carry us away.
Whatever we may eventually learn about his demise, there is something we can know. Surely he could have picked up a gun and took himself out in private somewhere. But instead, he drives out to the Vincent Thomas Bridge, parks his car, deals with traffic at 12:30 in the afternoon and makes his way on foot to the 18-foot tall barrier fence. It has been claimed that he has been caught on film by at least one eyewitness and by a local security camera, and that someone has tried shopping some footage around, and that some footage has even been seen. Supposedly there were no buyers yet. Who knows?
So Tony Scott is out there on the Vincent Thomas, for the entire world to see. He’s on stage, this time as both director and as player. And it is certainly R-Rated. What he is about to do with his life is actually obscene. Witnesses say he fiddled with something by his foot for a second (maybe he was adjusting a shoelace or something?) and then starts climbing the barrier fence. He was 68 years old. Up and over he goes. A 185-foot jump, from the bridge roadway to the waters of the Los Angeles harbor below. It’s like hitting concrete at that height. It makes that long plunge off the waterfall in the first Predator film that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character took look easy.
Whatever the reason, whatever the problem, pressure, depression, heartbreak, or more, Tony Scott chose a spectacular way to make an exit. I don’t think he really solved his problems by doing this, and I don’t mean for the word “spectacular” to be taken in a positive manner. But it sure could be described as one hell of a spectacle. Tony Scott exited life the way he lived it. He gave us something to think about, something to imagine. Even if some day we see the supposed footage, we will never know what it was really like to do something like he did out there on the Vincent Thomas (thankfully). But Tony Scott knew. He pushed it to the limit, and then he crossed the limit and went over the line. He lost control. May we soar like he did but never lose control. May we push it to the limit.