Tony Scott, action-film director and TV producer; at 68
LOS ANGELES — Tony Scott — the director of exuberant action films like ‘‘Top Gun’’ and ‘‘Unstoppable,’’ and a prolific producer of television shows and commercials in partnership with his older brother, Ridley — died Sunday after jumping from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in Los Angeles Harbor. He was 68 years old.
Officials opened a suicide investigation, but did not expect to conclude it or to have results of an autopsy Monday, said Ed Winter, an assistant chief of the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office.
“We know that he jumped from the bridge, 200 feet in height,’’ Winter said in a telephone interview. ‘‘It was reported that several people witnessed him jump.’’
Winter said Mr. Scott’s death was first reported at 12:47 p.m. Sunday, though his body was not recovered until hours later. ‘‘There was one suicide note found in his office in Los Angeles, and a note found in his cars, with names and contacts,’’ Winter said.
Cleon Joseph, an officer with and spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, said the death was not being investigated as a crime because of the indications of suicide.
Mr. Scott’s death shocked and mystified friends and colleagues with whom he had been busily engaged as recently as last week.
“I just worked with him, sharp as a button and having fun,’’ said Fay Greene, an associate who recently had been with Mr. Scott on the set of a Pepsi commercial in Long Beach, just south of the Vincent Thomas Bridge. ‘‘It featured all the usual Tony elements: speed boats, helicopter, and even a tiger in the swimming pool.’’
With his brother, Ridley, also a noted director and his partner in a robust group of production companies, Mr. Scott was the executive producer of ‘‘Coma,’’ a television miniseries set to air on the A&E network in early September. He was also reported to have spoken recently with Tom Cruise about a developing a sequel to ‘‘Top Gun,’’ a super-charged drama about fighter pilots that became a worldwide hit for both Mr. Scott and Cruise after its release by Paramount Pictures in 1986.
He and his brother were working on a film adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s book ‘‘Killing Lincoln,’’ set to be released next year. Among Mr. Scott’s most recent work was ‘‘Unstoppable,’’ the 2010 action film starring Denzel Washington, with whom he often worked.
Amanda Lundberg, a spokeswoman for Cruise, had no immediate comment. Michael Mand, a spokesman for Creative Artists Agency, which represented Mr. Scott, and Simon Halls, a spokesman for Ridley Scott, also had no comment.
Mr. Scott, known for sporting a weathered red baseball cap, lived with a cinematic flair to match his films, which were almost always about crime, as in his remake, ‘‘The Taking of Pelham 123”; conspiracy (”Enemy of the State”); and the roar of machinery (”Days of Thunder”). He was a rock climber who also rode motorcycles and drove fast cars. The bridge from which he jumped was a famous presence in several actions films directed by others, including, notably, William Friedkin’s ‘‘To Live and Die in L.A.,’’ in which it was the setting for a much-remembered bungee jumping scene.
Anthony David Scott was born in North Shields, a town on the northeast coast of England. As a teenager he made his movie debut as an actor in a short film, ‘‘Boy and Bicycle,’’ directed by Ridley Scott. After studying at many of the same schools that Ridley attended, Tony Scott graduated from London’s Royal College of Art and joined a television production company that Ridley had started. Tony Scott earned some of his earliest directing credits on television commercials, episodic series, and music videos before overseeing his first feature, the vampire movie ‘‘The Hunger,’’ in 1983.
Mr. Scott’s death led to an online outpouring of emotion and remembrances from performers and filmmakers who had worked with him or were inspired by his work.
Duncan Jones, the director of films such as ‘‘Source Code’’ and ‘‘Moon,’’ got an early career break doing camera work for Mr. Scott’s television series ‘‘The Hunger.’’ Jones wrote in a Twitter post: ‘‘Tony was a truly lovely man who took me under his wing & ignited my passion to make films.’’ Jones added: ‘‘Wish you had felt there was a way to keep going.’’
Edgar Wright, director of ‘‘Shaun of the Dead’’ and ‘‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,’’ wrote on his Twitter account: ‘‘Tony Scott was a rambunctious cinematic spirit.’’ He added: ‘‘As I hope was evident in my work, I was big fan of his. Rest In Peace, sir.’’