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Tony Scott death: Director 'looked nervous' before jumping off bridge

"Top Gun" director Tony Scott appeared nervous before leaping off the Vincent Thomas Bridge on Sunday afternoon, a witness said.

"He was on the roadway close to the fence looking around. He was looking around and fumbling with something at his feet. He looked nervous," witness David Silva said in an interview with The Times. "I thought it was some extreme sports guy."

Silva says he was a passenger in a car on the north side of the bridge heading to Palos Verdes while Scott was on the south side.

PHOTOS: Director Tony Scott dead at 68

Silva said Scott was wearing sporty orange and gray attire with shorts.

Silva said he "paused a couple of seconds and then began to climb the fence. He put his foot on the top of the fence and paused again. And then he threw himself off. I immediately thought, that guy is dead."

At first, he and other motorists thought it was an extreme-sports stunt. Then they realized the man didn't have a parachute or safety cord.

FULL COVERAGE: Director Tony Scott | 1944-2012

Silva said he called 911 immediately.

Scott, 68, had just completed a new movie and there had been no public reports of health problems. But Los Angeles County Coroner's officials said Monday's planned autopsy will look for signs of a serious health problem and that that is part of the investigation's focus.

ABC News reported that Scott suffered from brain cancer. Craig Harvey, a chief at the coroner's office, said authorities have heard that and other reports and are looking into them. He stressed, however, that the coroner has not formed any conclusions about what led to Scott's death.

FILM CAREER: A look at some of Scott's best-known works

The coroner's office said all evidence suggests Scott took his own life.

Scott left a suicide note at his office, law enforcement sources said, but police have not revealed what was in it. Harvey said Scott also left several "instructional" notes to family and friends.

Simon Halls, a spokesman for Scott's family, said the family asked "that their privacy be respected at this time."

PHOTOS: Reaction on Twitter to director's death

Los Angeles police first learned of the incident after 12:30 p.m. from a 911 caller who said that an unidentified man had leaped off the suspension bridge that connects San Pedro and Terminal Island. It's a 185-foot fall from the bridge roadway to the waters of the Los Angeles Harbor.

Authorities have been talking to those on the bridge at the time of the incident.

A source said officials looked inside the car and determined it belonged to the famed action-movie director and producer. A note in the car had contact information for his wife. A suicide note was later found in his office, according to law enforcement sources. Its contents were not revealed.

His body was pulled out of the water several hours later by divers from the Los Angeles Port Police.

The coroner's office identified Scott on Sunday evening.

Scott was a respected director and producer who made "Man on Fire," "Enemy of the State" and "Beverly Hills Cop II."

The last film that he directed was "Unstoppable," a 2010 thriller about a runaway freight train.

His career in television included executive producing the series "The Good Wife" and "Numb3rs," both on CBS.

The British director, who lived in Beverly Hills, was best known for the 1986 hit "Top Gun," starring Tom Cruise as a Navy aviator. The movie grossed $21.6 million in its first 11 days of release.

Scott was one of three sons born to working-class parents in northern England.

He established his career as a commercial director and continued to make television spots late into his career. Before becoming a filmmaker, Scott was a painter.

Distinguished by a kinetic visual style that aimed to take audiences into his high-octane action scenes, Scott also produced a number of blockbuster movies, most recently "Prometheus," directed by his brother Ridley Scott, and "The A-Team."

At the time of his death, he had recently completed filming on "Out of the Furnace," a drama he was producing about an ex-con starring Christian Bale. The movie is set to come out next year.

Scott was also preparing to produce a science-fiction drama called "Ion" and had served as executive producer on "Stoker," set to come out next March.

His debut feature, 1983's vampire movie "The Hunger," starred Catherine Deneuve and established Scott's cinematic style. He followed that movie with "Top Gun," which not only boosted the career of Tom Cruise but also ushered in a series of Scott's action movies, which included "Days of Thunder," also starring Cruise, and "Crimson Tide," starring Denzel Washington.

Though his movies were consistent box-office hits, he rarely attracted critical praise and was never nominated for an Academy Award.

He was more successful with reviewers in television, however, for his work on "The Good Wife."

Scott was married three times and had twin sons with his third wife, actress and model Donna Wilson.

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--Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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