Tony Scott didn't have brain cancer, family tells coroner
The Los Angeles County coroner's office said it has not determined whether director Tony Scott had any health problems before he jumped off a San Pedro bridge Sunday and said family members have denied media reports that he was suffering from inoperable brain cancer.
The "Top Gun" director jumped off the Vincent Thomas Bridge on Sunday in what is being investigated as a suicide. As in many cases, the coroner said it would not have a final cause of death until toxicology and other tests are back in several weeks.
The autopsy will look at any major health issues Scott had.
But Craig Harvey, a chief for the coroner's office, said Scott's family denied media reports about brain cancer.
"The family told us it is incorrect that he has inoperable brain cancer," Harvey said.
Scott, 68, had just completed a new movie, and there had been no public reports of health problems.
Scott appeared nervous before leaping off the bridge 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 said he was a passenger in a car on the north side of the bridge and Scott was on the south side.
Silva said Scott was wearing sporty orange-and-gray attire with shorts.
Silva said Scott "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, Silva and other motorists thought it was an extreme-sports stunt. Then they realized the jumper didn't have a parachute or safety cord.
Silva said he called 911 immediately.
The coroner's office said all evidence suggests that Scott took his own life.
Scott left a suicide note at his office, law enforcement sources said, but police have not revealed what it said. 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."
Los Angeles police first learned of the incident after 12:30 p.m. from a 911 caller who said a 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 that it belonged to the famed action-movie director and producer. A note in the car had contact information for his wife. The suicide note was later found in his office, according to law enforcement sources.
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 whose films included "Man on Fire," "Enemy of the State" and "Beverly Hills Cop II."
The last film 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.
Known for 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."
Scott 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.
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, Scott 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.
-- Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein