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As late as Friday, director Tony Scott was meeting with Tom Cruise to research their planned Top Gun sequel for Paramount.
The duo, who first collaborated on Cruise’s star-making 1986 military drama, were in Nevada touring a naval air station as part of their research for the movie, a source close to the project tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Top Gun 2 was one of three directing projects on Scott’s plate that were in advanced development before the director jumped from a Los Angeles-area bridge Sunday in what authorities are calling a suicide. The popular filmmaker’s next directing gig likely would have been Narco Sub at 20th Century Fox, but he also was keen to make Top Gun 2 and Fox’s Lucky Stripe, according to sources close to him. Another possibility was a remake of The Wild Bunch for Warner Bros.
“Studios have to compete for directors who are in demand, and Tony was in great demand,” says one studio insider who met with Scott for lunch two weeks ago. “Hyper-qualified directors are really rare.”
STORY: Tony Scott Autopsy Scheduled As Report Cites Inoperable Brain Cancer
THR has learned that Fox — where Tony and Ridley Scott‘s company Scott Free has its production deal — tapped writer Jeffrey Nachmanoff (Traitor) to rewrite the script for Narco Sub, about a disgraced American naval officer forced to pilot a sub carrying a payload of cocaine to America. David Guggenheim penned the original script, and Michael Bomback did a rewrite.
Paramount Motion Picture Group president Adam Goodman revealed plans for a Top Gun sequel in May during an interview with THR. “Jerry Bruckheimer would produce, with Tony Scott returning to direct. All parties are moving ahead,” Goodman said at the time. “We’ve hired Peter Craig to write the script.”
The original Top Gun catapulted Scott to fame and resulted in a lasting friendship with Cruise, who also starred in the filmmaker’s NASCAR-themed Days of Thunder (1990).
PHOTOS: Tony Scott’s Films, From ‘Top Gun’ to ‘Unstoppable’
“Tony was my dear friend, and I will really miss him,” Cruise said in a statement Monday. “He was a creative visionary whose mark on film is immeasurable. My deepest sorrow and thoughts are with his family at this time.”
Scott, also a prolific film and television producer, leaves a slew of television projects in development through Scott Free, including an untitled diamond drama with Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead scribe Kelly Masterson that is set up at AMC and Killing Lincoln at National Geographic Channel. Based on the best-selling book about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the two-hour documentary will include re-enactments and is slated to air in 2013.
Additionally, Scott is an executive producer on A&E’s miniseries Coma, which is scheduled to premiere on Labor Day.
Borys Kit and Lesley Goldberg contributed to this report.
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