“The biggest edge I live on is directing. That’s the most scary, dangerous thing you can do in your life….It’s the fear of failing, the loss of face and a sense of guilt that everybody puts their faith in you and not coming through….The true strength of rock climbing is in the head, not the body…. It’s controlling the fears I do while I’m directing.”
Director, Tony Scott is known to the public for his popular, box office hits. To others, as a loving little brother, a husband, a father. And to some, a dream maker.
November, 2004. I was doing what any other young girl who was born in the city of glitz and glamour was doing; pursuing acting. No? Is this not what everyone else does here? I thought it was. But I didn’t let the fact that everyone else was dreaming discourage me. It’s all I ever wanted to do. I had been taking classes, doing shorts or student films, and had been auditioning like crazy. When I learned I was going to be in Tony Scott’s new film, Domino, I was ecstatic. I rushed to Chapman University to tell my aspiring director friend, Joe the news. “I don’t have any lines,” I said, ”but I’m going to be on camera with Keira Knightley! This is my first big movie!!!….by the way, who is Tony Scott?” “Are you f%#&ing kidding me?! Top Gun?! Enemy of the state?!” This sad little problem associating names in Hollywood eventually became a recurring theme in my “career”. So I decided I needed to do my homework. But like all homework, I put it off, and the morning of the shoot, I could only list a few titles and facts. Did I really need to know this for a 1 to 2 day shoot with no lines? Probably not. But I still felt unprepared when I arrived on location.
It was a warm day for November in the shaded streets of Downtown LA. There were so many people. I couldn’t imagine what each of them must be assigned to do. It looked like they must have hired 10 people for every small piece of equipment. I looked around, lost, and confused, knowing I had to get dressed and made up. “You want to go to the honey wagon.” A girl told me who introduced herself as Holly. I still remember her name and her black hair with green eye shadow. She was quite pretty but very sweet. I made sure to stick by her for the rest of the shoot, as she taught me the ins and outs of a day’s work. I was dressed in a gorgeous black and white dress. My make up was done. And I was a model. I felt beautiful. I interacted with so many people, I didn’t know who I was not to talk to in those days. I was still fresh. Full of questions. Empty of shame.
When I saw the pink cap and the vest, I thought, is this guy going fishing? I went up to him and shamelessly (but sweetly) asked “so am I attacking in this scene or what?” He laughed. I giggled. I asked more nonsensical questions and he entertained me despite being overwhelmingly busy. I got the sense he didn’t care if you were Keira Knightley, Keira Dazi, or the homeless man that was invited to some craft services. He had the same warmth towards everyone regardless of what you could do for him. At one point I asked him if the pimple on my forehead was going to ruin the movie. Knightley said it wasn’t noticeable and shot a compliment. Is this really happening? Am I really here? I wasn’t starstruck. I was just…filled with hope. I shared my jitters, and was told I’d do fine and that we were about to start again. And with that I got a warm smile and a friendly wink.
Now it’s 2012. I’m doing other things now. The years in hollywood jaded me, and I used to look back on my first days on a big set and laugh that this could induce such excitement and intensity. I got small roles in Music Videos, 7th Heaven, Dexter, and other things; either as a coffee waitress or some other unnoticeable role. In most of the music videos, you were lucky if you saw my red hair flipping around. I learned who you are not supposed to talk to unless spoken to, how to behave on set, how to not mingle with the complainers lest you be thrown in with the cattle… I became self conscious about my face. My voice. My body. I became cynical. Negative. I thought I knew it all and that there was no more to learn. I grew ashamed of wanting to act. I was afraid of sounding ordinary. Everyone is an actor in LA. I got jobs behind the camera. I read scripts for producers. I slowly moved away from the frontlines, until I broke away from the business completely. I also fell in love with a boy and it took me to the opposite coast for awhile only to return to a cold city of memories and an abandoned and failed acting career. So I left. I moved to San Francisco. And then to France. Filled with new worries, new adventures, new memories. I forgot all that came before.
Cynicism is a stage of fear. It’s the point where your nerves have had time to mature with out control and eventually propagate apathy. Tony Scott controlled his fears in Hollywood with the same precision as he controlled his fears when climbing rocks.
I wonder, like some, if he regretted jumping. I witnessed a man jump off the Golden Gate in my last days in San Francisco. I could see he regretted it in the way he twisted his body before hitting water. But would Tony regret jumping? Reports say he jumped without hesitation. What ever pushed him to it, I don’t think fear had any part.
In the video below you will find his brother, Ridley Scott’s first film, wich Tony stars in. Please pay close attention to what he says exactly 20 minutes into the short. I imagine he is young again right now and is zipping around in this same landscape, on his bicycle.
And so as others remember him for his movies, this girl with an interminable inability to associate names, will remember him as the winky, smiling face in a pink hat saying “You’ll do fine”….
R.I.P. Tony Scott. <3