On Tony Scott

In the mid 1980’s, how I’m not exactly sure, my parents began befriending the film maker Tony Scott. During that era it was no surprise really as they were on the A list of the Hollywood Social Elite. But Tony was different – he was into fast cars and fast women, was fresh off the heels of the uber blockbuster Top Gun and had an overall tough guy demeanor that at first made him an odd fit to be friends with my parents. Stranger things have happened I guess. At that time, Tony lived on Angelo Dr about one mile up from our house in Benedict Canyon. Thus began a neighborly and family based friendship that lasted many many years.

As the years went on it became really noticeable that Tony’s tough guy englishman bulldog exterior was really an act. It was a device he used to craft a persona that allowed him to direct movies that has his unique stamp of action, intrigue and thrills. But that wasn’t really him on the inside. Once you got to know him he was a soft, sweet and gentle as any man you’d ever know. He also was the hardest worker you’d ever seen. No matter how late the night went he’d always get up at 6 am for his morning jog and then to the office or studio to either plan his next film or to make his current one.

In 1988 my parents clearly (and wisely) noticed that I could use a stable person in my life to be there no matter what happened so they made Tony and his then girlfriend Tania my godparents. It was incredibly sweet. Upon the night of the celebration of that event Tony gave me a VHS camcorder in hopes of my one day becoming a film maker. That didn’t happen obviously but I’ll never forget it. And on my sixteenth birthday Tony gave me the money to buy my first car – the beloved ’72 VW Bus. By the time I was seventeen the bus was such a disaster of a lemon that he went out and got me a super cool ’81 Jeep CJ7. It wasn’t so much about material things as it was about him doing things that my parents could not do and about unsurpassed generosity. Looking back on it, the car thing was funny. He knew my VW Bus was going to be a disaster, the Jeep was his tongue in cheek way of saying “i told you so.”

When I was about sixteen I took an interest in Tony’s films and became mesmerized that my godfather was this gigantic Hollywood movie director. Over the years I was so thrilled to get to visit the sets of The Last Boy Scout, Crimson Tide and others. It was such a thrill to see how it all worked. While I eventually became pretty far away from Hollywood in my adult life those days left an indelible mark on me that reinforced how great Hollywood could be when someone focussed on their craft and not trying to be famous. Tony was a craftsman through and through. His attention to detail was impeccable. So much so that he even did his own story boards for his films. Unheard of.

In the middle of all of this Tony and Tania really became our family. During Tony’s morning runs, he would venture a mile down to our house and drop off his dog “Little T” to play with our dog “Bo” for the day. This was a regular routine that went on for years until Tony moved from Angelo Drive. Eventually, Tony and Tania split and Tony met his soon to be wife Donna. Donna was a sizzling hot blonde hair blue eyed Southern Girl from North Carolina who pretty much became my teenage friends wet dream. She was sweet, down home, funny and did I mention hot? As close as we were with Tania the transition into Tony and Donna was rather seamless. The family continued. For years my parents and I hung out with them in Benedict Canyon and also down at the Scott’s beach house in Malibu. As I got older, I took notice that Tony wasn’t a counter-culture guy and Timmy wasn’t an action film guy. It was an odd couple relationship. Yet the friendship between them was genuine and pure.

In the summer of 1992 my mom and my dad split which left me in shock and my dad to fend for himself. I don’t think many people are aware of how much Tony Scott actually helped Timmy. From ’93 to ’96 Tony and Donna really became our go to friends that could help take care of Timmy as he was getting sicker. To make a long story short – Timmy’s death would have been a very very different situation if it weren’t for the kindness and generosity that Tony gave to us. He allowed Timmy to die at home with grace and dignity.

Additionally the bond between the Scott’s and Leary’s was so strong that to this day the executors of the Timothy Leary trust are Donna Scott and Denis Berry, a beautiful soul who came to us also through Tony’s kindness.

I could go on and on with endless stories about Tony’s laughter, dinners at Mr. Chows, Hollywood mischief, his generosity, and his friendship. Early on his guidance to me was so strong and palatable. Perhaps I wasn’t the best godson but I’ll never forget Tony. While we weren’t part of each other’s day to day lives in recent years the Scott’s will always be part of my family. I really wanted to write this post to let the world know the impact that this beautiful man had on my families life. Opposites perhaps, but good souls to the end.

He leaves behind his beautiful wife Donna and their two sons Frank and Max. Tony’s legacy will be one of legend. They don’t make them like that too often. I love you Tony and godspeed. Thank you for everything you did. You changed my life for the better.

17 thoughts on “On Tony Scott”

  1. Oh such saddness they have left behind, but such wonderment Tim has in store for Tony I’m sure, as they will meet again in their separate but equal after lives that is what I want to believe.

  2. Tony paid for Tim’s *wonderful* 75th Bday party. We were trying to put it together on a shoestring when he sent over like 10,000 worth of stuff and the message “do this right.”

  3. Zach, I didn’t know these things about your family relationship with Tony Scott. What a shock that news was. I am sorry you lost your godfather and that his family lost him. It is impossible to understand I think. True Romance, Crimson Tide, Top Gun, forget about it! Some of my all time favorite movies. What a major loss of talent. Your writing is great, thank you for this.


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