Tony Scott reportedly learned that he had a terminal illness before he jumped to his death from a Los Angeles County bridge.
A source close to the "Top Gun" director told ABC News on Monday that the 68-year-old Scott had inoperable brain cancer. The report has not been confirmed by authorities, and so far Scott's family is not commenting.
Speculation surrounding Scott's health began flourishing on Twitter almost immediately following reports that he jumped from Vincent Thomas Bridge on Sunday. Conjecture about a terminal brain tumor briefly surfaced on his Wikipedia page before it was promptly removed. It has since reappeared following the ABC report. Wikipedia has placed a level of semi-protection on Scott's page (as it often does to prevent misinformation about a recently deceased person), which prevents unregistered users from making edits. The site's editors have been battling "vandals" on the page since Monday morning, including one prankster who wrote that Scott was pushed off the bridge by Tom Cruise.
Eyewitnesses told police that Scott jumped from the bridge without hesitating. According to the Los Angeles Times, a suicide note was found in Scott's office following his death. Although police have not released its contents, they are treating the death like a suicide. According to the Associated Press, the L.A. County Coroner's Office also found several notes to loved ones in Scott's black Toyota Prius, which was parked on the bridge
Ed Winter, the county's assistant chief coroner, told the New York Daily News that an autopsy was scheduled for Monday morning. "We might (see a brain issue)," he said, "but we don't have anything medically confirmed at this time."
Scott was the younger brother of "Blade Runner" director Ridley Scott, with whom he often collaborated. The brothers recently completed work on the A&E miniseries "Coma," which is scheduled to air next month. A director of TV commercials before making the leap to Hollywood movies, the British-born Scott was a self-professed "adrenalin addict" who once told Cinema Blend that he only needed one or two hours of sleep when he was working, and that his work was motivated by fear.
At the time of his death, Scott had recently finished working on "Out of the Furnace," a drama starring Christian Bale and Zoe Saldana, which he produced with Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way Productions. He was reportedly signed on direct a sequel to 1986's "Top Gun," the air-combat action film that propelled both his and Tom Cruise's career into the cinematic stratosphere. The sequel was slated for a 2014 release by Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.
According to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 36,000 people in the United States die each year from suicide, making it the 10th-leading cause of death. Suicide rates increase with age and are very high among those 65 years and older, particularly white men.
In addition to "Top Gun," Scott directed a slew of action movies over the last three decades, including "Beverly Hills Cop II," "Days of Thunder," "The Last Boy Scout" and, most recently, "Unstoppable."
Scott is survived by his third wife, Donna, and their twin sons.