One of the first directors to make the transition from commercials to features, he helmed movies including "Top Gun,” “Beverly Hills Cop II” and “Unstoppable” and served as producer or executive producer on many other movies, including this summer’s “Prometheus,” directed by his older brother,
Here's a look back at some of his best-known works, with clips where available.
"Top Gun" (1986)
Tony Scott was hardly a hot commodity in Hollywood when he landed the director’s gig for this now-classic starring
Scott had had great success directing TV commercials, but his first film, "The Hunger"— a story about vampirism starring
In a 1986 interview with The Times, he recounted how he was drafted for “Top Gun,” even though “Hunger” had failed and even though he knew nothing about the prestigious Fighter Weapons School, where the top American pilots are trained. Scott said he first learned about the project in 1984 when he was on a raft trip on the Colorado River with a group that included producers Don Simpson and
At that time, Simpson and Bruckheimer had another director in mind for "Top Gun," and Scott himself was preparing the film "Man on Fire," which he hoped
"I remember listening to Don and Jerry and thinking what a good idea it sounded," Scott said. "But at that point another director was involved."
When negotiations with Duvall broke down, Scott said, a new actor was approached, and he wanted changes. "I could see another year's work looming ahead of me. And then, out of the blue, Don and Jerry approached me about making 'Top Gun.' And I jumped at it."
"Beverly Hills Cop II" (1987)
Following on the success of “Top Gun,” Scott again teamed with Simpson and Bruckheimer in 1987, for the sequel to
Directing "Cop II" was a fulfillment of his wish to do a comedy and to work with Eddie Murphy, Scott told The Times after its release. However, he did have a few misgivings. "As a director, I was ambivalent about taking on a sequel, and the film was a daunting prospect because the original had been so successful. But I loved Eddie and the boys and felt I could do a different movie."
Spurning critics' complaints that his movie was only a clone of the original, Scott said his "Cop" was "much tougher, faster and glossier. I tried a different focus on the characters. I capitalized on their redevelopment, especially of Rosewood (
He rejected suggestions that he had somehow sold out by doing two such commercial films back-to-back. "I don't see it that way," Scott said. "I think I've been lucky. Thanks to (producers) Don (Simpson) and Jerry (Bruckheimer, who also produced "Top Gun"), I've been able to do two hard-core entertainment films that are each different. The similarity is that the passion I brought to both was the same; making a film to me is like fighting a war."
"True Romance" (1993)
Scott took a much darker turn directing the
Janet Maslin of
"Crimson Tide" (1995)
A military thriller that combined the deep-dive tension of “The Hunt for Red October” and the jousting-with-authority scenario of “A Few Good Men,” the axis of the film is the duel of wills between a fire-breathing submarine commander (
Scott brought Tarantino in to add ping to the submarine crew’s dialogue, and the cast was a deep one, with
"Enemy of the State" (1998)
"Man on Fire" (2004)
About two decades after he first contemplated making “Man on Fire,” Scott brought the project to fruition with Washington in the lead, and the
Reviewing the film, Times critic Turan noted that Scott was a “director known to showcase lots of things blowing up and lots of people being blown away” and that “the visual component is always a key focus of his work. But when he's had interesting material to work with, as he did in ‘Enemy of the State’ and ‘Crimson Tide,’ he's made good use of it, and he has a similar opportunity here. … Scott has turned out a film that is, unlikely as it sounds, initially more a character study than anything else.” The film went on to gross nearly $78 million domestically.
"Déjà Vu" (2006)
The third teaming of Scott and Washington was this thriller with a do-over twist. Washington portrayed a federal agent who, thanks to an experimental technology, gets a chance to go back and stop a New Orleans ferry disaster before it takes a single life.
Washington said he didn't mind déjà vu when it came to working with Scott. "I really enjoy working with Tony, so it makes for a pleasurable experience. I've been at this too long for it not to be fun. It's sort of a no-brainer. The next time they call me, I'll be there."
"The Taking of Pelham 123" (2009)
Scott endured some criticism for his "reinvention" of the 1974 thriller, which was widely considered one of the decade's classic films. But in the post-9/11 era, Scott felt there was something new that could be done with terrorist dramas.
The new film showcased contemporary technologies: live-blogging, webcams and online commodity trading in pursuit of a criminal vendetta.
The rare action film without guns, swords or brutality, "Unstoppable" earned the filmmaker some of his best reviews with its tense and artfully choreographed tale of a half-mile-long freight train barreling toward a city at 70 mph with no one aboard.
The movie teamed Scott yet again with Washington, who plays a veteran engineer whose style clashes with a rail newcomer played by “Star Trek” star
"The Hunger" (1983)
So what about that first movie, "The Hunger," that flopped so badly in 1983, and nearly derailed Scott's film career before it even started?
Just as Ridley Scott made his mark with a jarring, visceral and stylized horror film--namely “Alien” in 1979--his brother did the same, but he went for the throat instead of the gut. “The Hunger” is the tale of an ancient vampire named Miriam (Deneuve) and her fading partner, John (Bowie), who seeks help from a medical researcher named Sarah (
The movie became notorious for Miriam’s dreamy seduction of Sarah, but that wasn’t enough to keep the blood pumping for many critics.