Photo: Top Gun
Tony Scott, the British film director, spent the final days before his death with Tom Cruise researching Top Gun 2 at an American naval airbase, it emerged today.Scott, 68, was closely working with the 50 year-old Hollywood actor on the sequel to the director’s biggest hit more than 25 years ago.
The pair, close friends since first working together on the 1986 blockbuster, met last Friday, just two days before Scott plunged to his death from a Los Angeles suspension bridge.
According to industry reports, a Top Gun 2 script was close to being finalised and the pair were scouring locations with a view to shortly begin filming the remake.
They reportedly toured a naval air station in Fallon Nevada last week as part of their research for the military drama, in which Cruise would reprise his celebrated role as a naval fighter pilot Lt Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.
Today it remains unclear whether studio executives will continue with the film in the wake of the father-of-two’s sudden death on Sunday.
A clearly devastated Cruise was photographed looking disheveled as he left a West Hollywood restaurant, hours after Scott’s suspected suicide.
In a statement last night, the Mission Impossible star described his grief at the loss of his “dear friend,” originally from North Shields, North Tyneside.
“Tony was my dear friend and I will really miss him,” he said.
“He was a creative visionary whose mark on film is immeasurable. My deepest sorrow and thoughts are with his family at this time.”
He led tributes from a shocked Hollywood to the director, who was frequently seen behind the camera in his signature faded red baseball cap.
American reports had suggested the 68 year-old committed suicide by leaping from a Los Angeles suspension bridge after he was diagnosed as terminally ill.
But it was claimed today that his widow, actress Donna Wilson, has told police that her husband and the father of their twin boys, did not have any major health problems.
Top Gun 2 was one of Scott’s three directing projects in “advanced development” before his death, according to The Hollywood Reporter (THR) .
He operated Scott Free Productions with his 74 year-old brother Ridley in Los Angeles almost 40 years after the pair formed London-based commercial production company Ridley Scott Associates.
“Studios have to compete for directors who are in demand, and Tony was in great demand,” said one studio insider who met with Scott for lunch a fortnight ago. “Hyper-qualified directors are really rare.”
Top Gun, a film about the US fighter jets starring Cruise and Kelly McGillis, was one of the highest-grossing films of the 1980s and quickly became a cult classic.
Since its release in 1986, it has grossed almost $354 million (£225 million) worldwide. It catapulted Scott to fame and resulted in a lasting friendship with Cruise.
Top Gun’s producers, Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, signed Scott to direct the movie after being impressed by a commercial he had done for Swedish automaker Saab in the early 1980s in which a car races a fighter jet.
The trio worked together again in 1990 on the NASCAR-set Days of Thunder, which also starred Cruise and his soon to become wife Nicole Kidman. She said: “I’m so, so sad. I loved Tony and he was always so good to me.”
Paramount Motion Picture Group president Adam Goodman disclosed the plans for a in May.
He told THR: “Jerry Bruckheimer would produce, with Tony Scott returning to direct.
“All parties are moving ahead. We’ve hired Peter Craig to write the script.”
Scott, famed for other films including Beverly Hills Cop II, Crimson Tide and Enemy of the State, died on Sunday after plunging almost 200 feet from the Vincent Thomas Bridge, in the city’s south.
He was said to be wearing the signature faded-red baseball cap that he wore on set while directing Hollywood blockbusters.
Investigators found a suicide note in his office, the contents of which have not been disclosed.
Post mortem examination results are not due for up to eight weeks.
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