Coroner, director Tony Scott’s family dispute cancer report

Story highlights

Film director Tony Scott left two notes before his apparent suicide, a coroner official says

It will be weeks before autopsy results are made public, an official says

"Unfathomable to think that he is now gone," Denzel Washington says

Scott is best known for the films "Top Gun" and "Beverly Hills Cop II"

Los Angeles CNN  — 

Tony Scott’s fatal plunge from a California bridge Sunday remained a public mystery Tuesday as medical investigators and his family disputed a report that the British director suffered from inoperable brain cancer.

Scott, best known for the films “Top Gun” and “Beverly Hills Cop II,” apparently committed suicide by jumping from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro, California, about 12:30 p.m. Sunday, said Lt. Joe Bale of the coroner’s office.

Scott, 68, wrote two notes before his death, including a message left in his Los Angeles office that was apparently for family members, a coroner official said.

The second note, detailing contact information for authorities investigating his death, was found in his Toyota Prius parked nearby, the official said.

Investigators would not say what clues those notes may have given them concerning Scott’s motivation for suicide, which Bale said was the apparent cause of death.

“There’s nothing to indicate it is anything else at this time,” he said Monday.

Director Tony Scott: An appreciation

It will be weeks before the findings of Monday’s autopsy are made public, the coroner’s office said Tuesday.

“Our examination is complete and we will be working towards a comprehensive document once we close the case,” Deputy Chief Coroner Ed Winter said.

An ABC report Monday suggested the director was scripting his own death after being told by a doctor that he was dying of inoperable brain cancer. The network did not name the source of its information.

“I did talk to the family yesterday late afternoon, and according to his wife, he did not have brain cancer as reported, and (she) does not know who told ABC that information, which is absolutely false,” Winter said.

Scott’s unexplained death shocked the Hollywood stars who worked with him on a long list of successful movies over the past three decades. Denzel Washington, who starred in several Scott-directed thrillers – including 2010’s “Unstoppable” – said it was “unfathomable to think that he is now gone.”

Tony Scott: Unstoppable Hollywood force

“He had a tremendous passion for life and for the art of filmmaking and was able to share this passion with all of us through his cinematic brilliance,” he said.

Born Anthony D.L. Scott in North Shields, England, in 1944, the director got his start as a teenager in front of the camera, starring in his older brother Ridley Scott’s film “Boy and Bicycle.” In 1995, the two joined forces to create the production company Scott Free Productions.

Tony Scott became a household name in 1986 as director of the mega-hit “Top Gun,” starring Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis. He followed that up with the Eddie Murphy action movie “Beverly Hills Cop II” in 1987.

Both Cruise and Murphy released statements mourning the loss of their director.

“Tony was my dear friend and I will really miss him. He was a creative visionary whose mark on film is immeasurable. My deepest sorrow and thoughts are with his family at this time,” Cruise said.

Scott made tense films for jittery times

Murphy described Scott as a “wonderful collaborator” and said he will be missed.

Pepperdine University film professor Craig Detweiler called Scott “the supreme stylist” who “operated at the top of his game throughout each decade of his career.”

“He was able to make the thinnest of premises into something pulse-pounding and exciting, and he’s almost a filmmaker as a magician who found drama amidst almost contrived situations,” he said.

Taking his own life by jumping from a bridge is “a high-adrenaline ending, which matches his dramatic style,” Detweiler said.

“He put Denzel Washington, Will Smith and Tom Cruise in movies where one man overcomes all struggles, triumphs over struggles, and yet it appears he was not able to write that story for himself,” he said.

Actor Michael Rapaport, who was directed by Scott in “True Romance,” took to Twitter to praise the director. In one post, he said there hasn’t been a day since the movie was released in 1993 that someone doesn’t tell him how much they loved the film.

“Tony Scott was a sweet enthusiastic & lovin man,” Rapaport wrote.

Scott cemented his reputation for big-budget action films with 1990’s “Revenge” starring Kevin Costner and “Days of Thunder” with Cruise. In 1998, he directed “Enemy of the State” with actors Smith and Gene Hackman.

It was on the set of “Days of Thunder” where Scott met actress Donna Wilson, whom he married in 1994. They had twin sons.

Reaction to Scott’s death poured out Monday, with directors, actors and fans mourning the news.

11 Scott films we’ll remember

“Being around you was always the ultimate experience – intensity, vitality and celebration. Pure rock and roll and great cigars. Your warmth and generosity was palpable to all us. You treated everyone with care and respect,” said actor Edgar Ramirez, who starred in Scott’s 2005 film, “Domino.”

“You always focused on the subtleties, taking the best out of us. I am proud to be your friend, and although I won’t be seeing you for a while, you will live on in the laughter of our memories of you.”

“Tony Scott as a friend and a mentor was irreplaceable. Tone, wherever you are, I love you man. RIP,” director and producer Joe Carnahan said on Twitter.

Carnahan recounted how when his movie “The Grey” was finished, Scott called to tell him he had seen it. He told Carnahan it was great and not to allow anybody to change anything in it.

“Tony always sent personal, handwritten notes & always drew a cartoon caricature of himself, smoking a cigar, with his hat colored in red,” Carnahan said in a post.

Psychiatrist: I hate suicide but also understand it

Scott directed his last film, the train thriller “Unstoppable” starring Washington, in 2010.

“For me, it was the most challenging movie of my life, and the most dangerous because I’m shooting 90 percent of the movie on a train that is running between 50 and 70 mph,” Scott told CNN at the time.

Scott’s reputation in Hollywood was low-key.

“He wasn’t a showy kind of guy,” longtime entertainment reporter Jeanne Wolf told CNN.

Scott was often seen sporting a frayed, faded red ball cap on movie sets and at red carpet premieres.

The ball cap, Wolf said, was his trademark.

While Scott’s movies garnered box office success, they never received the acclaim that generated Academy Award nominations.

In 2002, the Scott brothers won an Emmy for the television movie “The Gathering Storm.”

Scott also was nominated for the Emmy as a producer for the CBS drama “The Good Wife.”

“So very, very sorry to hear of the death of Tony Scott,” actress Martha Plimpton, who appeared in “The Good Wife,” said via Twitter.

Among his last projects was serving as an executive producer on the TV miniseries “Coma,” which is due to air this year.

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CNN’s Kareen Wynter contributed to this report.