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Director Tony Scott’s death remains a mystery, bridge he leaped off had special significance

Meriah Doty
Movie Talk
August 24, 2012

Famed British film director Tony Scott jumped to his death on Sunday from a bridge in Los Angeles in an apparent suicide. Reports that he had inoperable brain cancer were later proven by Los Angeles County coroners to be untrue. The reason behind Scott's suicide remains a mystery as a note he left behind -- along with other letters -- did not offer any motive. He is expected to be buried at a private funeral on Saturday. Final cause of death may take weeks to determine, pending tests including a toxicology report.

The 68-year-old director/producer helmed such films as "The Hunger" (1983), "Top Gun" (1986), "Beverly Hills Cop II" (1987), "Days of Thunder" (1990), "True Romance" (1993), "Crimson Tide" (1995) and was listed as a producer on film and television titles including "Numb3rs" (2005-2010), "The A-Team" (2010), "The Grey" (2011), "The Good Wife" (2009-2012) and "Prometheus" (2012, directed by his brother Ridley Scott).

Scott jumped to his death from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in Southern California. It is a large suspension bridge he had envisioned as a centerpiece for one of his films -- a film that had yet to be made. The project was to be a remake of 1979 street gang film "The Warriors," and Scott planned to move the film's setting from New York to Los Angeles. "It's a city which is horizontal. New York is vertical, all skyscrapers, and Los Angeles is horizontal. I'm hoping to get a hundred thousand real gang-members standing on the Vincent Thomas Bridge for one shot," Scott told Rotten Tomatoes in 2009.

[Related: 'Top Gun' director left behind notes to loved ones]

A few years prior, Scott had discussed his plan for the opening scene of the film to take place at the suspension bridge that connects Los Angeles Harbor to Terminal Island in San Pedro, California (adjacent to the city of Long Beach): "The opening of 'The Warriors' now begins on the Long Beach Bridge, and it's going to look like the L.A. marathon," Scott told MTV News in 2005. The next year he revealed more of his vision to Cinema Blend: "Then on the Vincent Thomas bridge, which is Long Beach, you have a thousand gang members up there, then Cyrus goes bang. It's almost like 9/11, bodies coming off, it just goes ballistic. Then these guys have got to get from the Vincent Thomas back to Venice, [California,] through all these different gang territories. And it becomes anarchy."

The Vincent Thomas Bridge has been used in other films including Michael Mann's 1995 crime film "Heat," starring Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and Val Kilmer, "Head" (1968), starring The Monkees, "Gone in 60 Seconds" (2000) and "Charlies Angels" (2000). It is also a central location in "To Live and Die in L.A." (1985), starring Willem DaFoe and William Petersen -- who played a character who leaps off the bridge, bungee jumping.

At 1,500 feet long, the nearly 50-year-old bridge is the fourth-longest suspension bridge in California and hosts traffic of approximately 20,000 cars daily. While the exact suicide rate at the Vincent Thomas Bridge is unclear, it is said to be a place from which many others have committed suicide. However, San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is a location where more people die by suicide than any other place in the world -- the rate crept up to 37 deaths in 2011. In 1990 Olympic bronze medalist Larry Andreasen died leaping from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in an attempt to set a diving record.

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