LOS ANGELES (AFP)
Filmmakers and fans were in shock after learning that Tony Scott, director of action thrillers "Top Gun" and "Days of Thunder," had jumped to his death from a California bridge.
Police and the US Coast Guard pulled the 68-year-old Scott's body out of the water near the Vincent Thomas Bridge over Los Angeles Harbor on Sunday, the LA County coroner's office said.
The Los Angeles police department has opened an investigation and an autopsy was conducted Monday, said LA county coroner's office spokesman Ed Winter. The findings were not released, pending results of toxicology tests.
ABC News had reported that Scott had been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer, but Winter said he could not confirm or deny the report, adding that the examination of Scott's brain could not be completed on Monday.
Celebrity news website TMZ then reported that Scott's widow, actress Donna Wilson, told investigators that rumors her husband suffered from a brain tumor were "absolutely false" and that he did not suffer from any serious illness.
Investigators found a suicide note in his office, the Los Angeles Times reported. Its contents have not been revealed.
A witness saw Scott climb over a fence on the bridge and jump into the water, according to Lieutenant Joseph Bale of the coroner's office. Other witnesses said they later saw Scott's shoes floating in the water.
Authorities summoned divers and a helicopter in a bid to find Scott's body in the port's murky waters and recovered it at approximately 3:00 pm, four hours after he jumped, Bale said.
The family confirmed Scott's death, but offered no further details.
"I can confirm that Tony Scott has indeed passed away," the late director's spokeswoman, Katherine Rowe, told reporters. "The family asks that their privacy be respected at this time."
Scott, who was born in Britain in 1944, made his mark in the mid-1980s when he directed "Top Gun," an action-filled blockbuster about elite navy pilots featuring then-rising star Tom Cruise.
It was one of the highest-grossing films of 1986, taking in more than $176 million and giving a major boost to Scott's and Cruise's careers.
The British filmmaker sought out Cruise again in 1990 when he started working on "Days of Thunder," another thriller exposing the rough-and-tumble world of NASCAR stock car racing that raked in nearly $158 million.
"Tony was my dear friend and I will really miss him," Cruise said in a statement sent to AFP via email by his spokeswoman.
"He was a creative visionary whose mark on film is immeasurable. My deepest sorrow and thoughts are with his family at this time."
Director Marc Webb, whose latest film is "The Amazing Spider-Man," called Scott a "legend", while Michael Moore hailed Scott's "True Romance" -- one of Scott's more audacious films.
"True Romance. The scene with Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper in a Detroit railyard is a classic. RIP Tony Scott," Moore said.
Scott also directed "Enemy of the State," "Beverly Hills Cop II," "Spy Game," "Unstoppable" and "Crimson Tide," a submarine thriller starring Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington.
Val Kilmer, who co-starred in "Top Gun," called Scott "the kindest film director I ever worked for" in a post on Twitter.
"No more Tony Scott movies. Tragic day," tweeted director Ron Howard.
Scott was the younger brother of fellow film director Ridley Scott, the maker of Oscar-winning movies like "Gladiator" and "Black Hawk Down" as well as other hits like "Blade Runner."
Scott started his career under his brother's patronage in the early 1970s and directed thousands of television commercials for his brother's company Ridley Scott Associates.
The pair worked on hit television shows, including "The Good Wife". TMZ reported that Ridley Scott had left London for Los Angeles on Monday.
A prolific filmmaker, Scott had more that 30 new projects in the pipeline, including "Top Gun 2," a sequel to the original movie, where Tom Cruise was again expected to play the lead role.
Scott and Wilson, his third wife, had twin sons.