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Tony Scott Remembered

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As an actor, I'm always thinking about -- what else? Myself. My career. Fretting over missed opportunities, feeling like I'll never work again, retracing every step I've taken, wondering where I've gone wrong, and taking heart in what's gone right.

The two occasions I worked for Tony Scott were unquestionably good times. Things were going my way. Those were days of privilege and validation, the kind every actor longs for.

Gene Hackman said that Tony "respected the needs of an actor." I can't think of a more concise remembrance of Mr. Scott.

There are enough people, within and without the acting community, who couldn't care less about the needs of an actor, who despise actors, but Tony Scott was the opposite. That devilish smile was all about you, seeing you, he was happy to see you. He loved actors.

He loved us!

The reason his death hurts so much... isn't because we loved him. It's because he loved us. And now he's gone.

And who's going to love us like that now? Can you tell me? In this cold, unforgiving business, who is going to love actors as much as Tony Scott did?

Such a loving man. He was always passionate about his work. Why would such a person want to take their own life?

I've met hundreds and hundreds of people in the acting business. It's been my privilege to meet and work with so many great people, including a handful of bona fide industry giants. Tony Scott was one of them. He was a true leader. A general.

December in Pittsburgh... snow flurries... 6 a.m. ... no heat in the trailer...

A knock on my dressing room door. I think it's going to be a production assistant. But it's Tony Scott, who I haven't seen in 18 years. He looks exactly the same. Pink baseball cap, running shorts (in winter). So much color in his face, that smile.

"Can I come in?" he asks. Of course, of course. We worked together on True Romance. I was a kid. Tony still thinks I am one. I tell him I've got a five year old daughter. He notices my gray hair. He's happy to see me. We acknowledge how time flies, and then he gets down to business. He shows me his personally drawn story boards, done that morning -- charming panel-to-panel sketches -- sparse, but nuanced and altogether delightful and illustrative..so much of the actors' personalities in them--mine, Rosario Dawson's, and Kevin Chapman's.. I complimented the drawings and Tony reminded me that he'd been an art student.

"So that's how you'll look in the movie, Kev what do you think?"

He was jovial and paternal and very affectionate. He made me feel like I was going to be a special part of the movie. He made everybody feel that way. He said "OK, I have to go talk to Rosario now. Thanks for doing this. See you in there, yeah?"

"Yes, let's make a movie," I said.

And he kissed me on the head. And then he left my dressing room, and continued on his morning rounds. It's like we, the cast, were his children (no disrespect to his real children.)

Four years ago, I lost a friend to suicide. We who knew and loved the man still ask why. Most agree that depression played a large part, but there's no real consensus.

When I heard that Tony had taken his own life, I couldn't figure out why he, of all people, would do it. And I had to remind myself that I didn't know him that well, and that human beings are complicated. Someone can appear strong, confident, full of life, and little do we know how much they are suffering internally.

Days after the news broke, it was reported that Tony had inoperable brain cancer. For a moment, the tragedy was easier to digest. One presumed that Tony had sought to spare his loved ones and himself the agony of a slow, painful demise. But a day later, the story was discredited.

Apparently, the notes he left behind don't shed much light.

And so we don't know. And may never know. It stops mattering after a while.

After we scramble about, hoping to find reasons to be less sad, we find only sadness and reasons he'll be missed. Alpha male, fearless leader, cigar-chomping playboy, energetic, devilish, charming. Always laughing, but never callous or cruel. He was, bottom line, a very sweet, thoughtful human. And humble. He had a gentleness about him. Such a disarming smile. His eyes with their crow's-feet.

Spring '92, Los Angeles. Tony drops in on a wardrobe fitting, has some things to say about my clothes, but was mainly in agreement with the costumer and me.

I remember getting my hair cut and styled. I'm brought to set with the other gangsters -- Vic Argo, Frank Adonis, Paul Ben Victor. Tony takes in the sight of us, excited, pleased. He looked us up and down and when he sees me he says, "Marvin looks fuckin' brilliant!"

The big shoot out at the end of True Romance was filmed at the Ambassador Hotel (now demolished). It took more than a week to film this sequence. I had only planned to be there for five days. However, the movie was behind schedule and that meant I could not fly back to NY to play with my band. I was a rock and roll wannabe. I had a gig at some dive on Avenue A. It was a Very Big Deal.

The next day on set, I looked up to see Tony walking toward me, flanked by the 1st AD and his personal assistant. He said, "Kev, I'm so sorry you have to miss your gig. Your band. Can they reschedule it? So sorry, man. We need you, we need you."

That he even considered doing that, took the time to find me and say that, seemed pretty rock and roll to me. So respectful. Completely disarming. And endearing.

I remember looping for True Romance. It was at Studio One in the Brill Building. We were chatting while the footage was being cued up. He told me he had to cut my scene with Christopher Walken. Again, he was apologetic... he said he loved the scene but it was too long. (It has since resurfaced on a 'deleted scenes' disc in some edition of the movie).

I asked him who got into directing first--he or his brother Ridley. (It was Ridley, of course.)

"You make very different films," I remarked. And Tony countered, "I think we make very similar films," and then we looked at each other for a moment and Tony said, "Ridley's are more thoughtful than mine."

The irony is that Tony was so incredibly thoughtful.

His death is painful to think about. My wife called to tell me. "Did you hear about Tony Scott?" When that question is asked, you just know it's not good, especially at 1 a.m. "Don't tell me he died," I said. I couldn't believe it. Such random, irritating news, utterly confounding, but when my wife told me how he died, it broke my heart. The grief was instantaneous. I couldn't talk for a few minutes. I couldn't stop crying. And I thought why am I crying? Was he friend of mine? Did I know the guy or something? I didn't know him that well.

But I did know him. And he knew me.

I'll miss him.