Younger brother to Ridley, Tony Scott first made his name in feature filmmaking with 1983s erotic vampire oddity, The Hunger, starring David Bowie and an implausibly sexy Susan Sarandon. If your only experience with horny vampires is True Blood, take some time out of your day to indulge in this overlooked 80s classic.
Arguably Scott's most renowned work came three years later, with the Jerry Bruckheimer/Don Simpson produced Top Gun. All jokes of homoeroticism aside, it's a rock solid piece of mainstream entertainment. Through the tale of Maverick and Goose, Scott helped define popular cinema for a decade.
Scott directed several other films after Top Gun's monster success, including the undervalued (though inferior to the original) Beverly Hills Cop II, while the pseudo-Top Gun remake Days of Thunder inauspiciously lead Scott into the '90s.
Next, he would go on to direct two of his best films: The Last Boy Scout, one of Bruce Willis' best films, whose a box office failure is in no way a reflection of its quality, and True Romance, the Quentin Tarantino-penned movie loaded with some career best performances from the likes of Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken. Despite all his success as a visual stylist, Scott showed that he could be a real actor's director.
Crimson Tide in 1995 saw Scott in his first collaboration with Denzel Washington, who would go on to be the De Niro to Scott's Scorsese, and another example of well-made mainstream entertainment that didn't sacrifice brains. This was a trend he continued in 1998, with the slick, effortlessly paced Will Smith-vehicle Enemy of the State.
Despite decades of great success with his reliable Bruckheimer/Simpson approach to action film-making, Scott still took risks. In 2004 he made Man on Fire, which would herald the beginning of his experimental late-period phase. The film was a magnificent example of boundary-busting mainstream filmmaking, pushing the form forward (and sideways and upside down, for good measure) where other directors would have settled on something generic. He was an artist working in a world of Michael Bays.
Man on Fire's critical success inspired Scott to push even harder, giving us 2005's Domino (penned by then Donnie Darko golden boy Richard Kelly) which was an absolute disaster. Critics tore it to shreds and audiences turned away in droves, but the artistry and ambition was undeniable. Scott was not content to settle on the tried and tested way - Man on Fire gave him a new creative lease on life, Domino saw him fly too close to the sun.
Scott pared back his quirks but held onto this new, hyper-kinetic approach to action filmmaking with 2006's Déjà Vu, 2009's The Taking of Pelham 123 (a film with the curious distinction of being the only film I can recall where a stationary train caused motion sickness) and 2010s Unstoppable. I may have disliked my share of those movies but I commend the man for being an uncompromising, unique creative vision in an increasingly homogeneous genre.
Tony, along with brother Ridley, ran the production company Scott Free - which helped make modern masterpieces like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and this year's The Grey.
Despite pushing towards 70, Scott still seemed to have a lot of life left in him; he continued to talk up high-profile remakes like The Warriors (which would have transplanted Walter Hill's '70s pulp classic into realistic, contemporary LA) and The Wild Bunch, as well as the much hyped sequel to Top Gun.
Losing the potential for interesting new films is a minor thing, though. We may be film fans, we may process a director's worth by the product he creates, but we are people and we understand that something much worse happened today; a life has ended.
Speaking as someone who suffers from depression, Scott's death hits me hard and is a daily reminder that wealth and success will not rid you of this affliction. Help, love and the understanding of others is what people need. If you feel the sting of sadness over Scott's suicide then please consider the countless others still suffering in silence. You may even know someone who suffers from depression. Take this time to put yourself out there for them, show them you'll be there for them when things are at their worst.
If you, like me, suffer from depression: Let this tragedy and the outpouring a sadness that followed be a lesson to you. Don't let it fester, speak to someone and get the help you need. There's no shame in asking for help, it may be the bravest thing you will ever do.
Tony Scott, born June 21st 1944, died August 19th 2012. A trend-setter and a visionary but, most importantly, he was also a friend, a son, a brother, a father and a husband. He will be missed.