Tony Scott, director of such Hollywood hits as Top Gun, Days of Thunder and Beverly Hills Cop II, died after jumping from a towering suspension bridge spanning Los Angeles harbour and leaving behind several notes to loved ones, authorities said.
The 68-year-old Scott's death on Sunday is being investigated as a suicide, Los Angeles County Coroner's Lieutenant Joe Bale said. British-born Scott, who lived in Beverly Hills, was producer and director Ridley Scott's younger brother. He was married to actress Donna Scott and they have twin sons.
"I can confirm that Tony Scott has passed away. The family asks that their privacy is respected at this time," Scott's spokesman, Simon Halls, said in a statement.
A post-mortem examination has been scheduled, coroner's chief of operations Craig Harvey said. He said investigators have found several notes to loved ones that Scott left in his car and at another location, but that they were not described in initial reports as suicide notes.
He said Scott parked his car at the crest of the bridge, which is 185 feet above water, before leaping to his death.
Tony was the first of the Scott brothers to enjoy blockbuster success with Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise, the top-grossing film of 1986. Scott teamed with Cruise again four years later on the hit Days Of Thunder. He also had a sequel to Top Gun in development.
Cruise said: "He was a creative visionary whose mark on film is immeasurable. My deepest sorrow and thoughts are with his family at this time."
Gene Hackman, who worked with Scott on Crimson Tide and Enemy of the State, said the director "was always sensitive to the needs of an actor. We've lost a wonderful, creative talent".
In a Twitter post, director Ron Howard said, "No more Tony Scott movies. Tragic day".
Director Jon Favreau tweeted: "Such sad news about Tony Scott. Heartfelt condolences to his family and friends."