My Brother, The Director

Tony Scott Talks About His Older Brother

Charlie Rose interviewed filmmaker Tony Scott, who directed Top Gun and Enemy of the State, about his brother Ridley's influence and talents as well as their relationship.

What do you think the most important thing you've learned from him?

"It comes from our family, from our background. That is that we are both tireless in our pursuit of actually getting things better....It comes from us being a northern background from my parents, from my...mum who's 94, dad who lived to a ripe old age."

"We are physically both very strong. And I think it's fear of failure that drives us, you know? It's this fear of failure that gets us up at...4 a.m. every morning."

What's the difference in Ridley Scott and Tony Scott?

"There's only one way to do things, and that's Ridley's way."

"Ridley and I have obviously ...been around together a long time. ...As he's grown, he's grown into enjoying the business aspect of what we do. And I've grown the... opposite direction."

Who's in charge, you or Rid?

"I think Rid's in charge."

So what kind of guy is he?

"He's tough. He's decisive. He's opinionated. And he always has a vision ... about his work or about the day or about his house or his decoration or whatever he's doing. He always has this...obsessive vision about whatever he does. And I think that's why it makes him unique in terms of what he does behind the camera."

Have you seen him grow?

"Yes, enormously."

In what way?

"Ridley elder brother, and I've always looked up to him. And he's the guy that actually pointed me ... hopefully in the right direction in terms of film. ... I kept watching Ridley's career and watching what he was doing. And I was a painter for eight years."

"I helped him make his first movie, and I was in his first movie (A Boy on a Bicycle). And just and his influence in terms of moving from, canvas to film. It was Ridley that actually did it to me."

But does he spend too much time on business?

"Look at Gladiator which is his last movie. And Rid his peak in terms of his... business side of his career. And you look at Gladiator and his peak in terms of his creative side. ...Last year was a great year from him. Now, he's just completed Hannibal."

"He's back into doing movies which he controls. ...He has this vision about a world, a particular world. And once he has that vision, he takes you on this journey into this... vision."

"There are very few directors who've been around ever or around at the moment who have this...ability to... have a vision about...the story they're telling you or the world they're taking you into it."

There have been some rough periods, too?

"You know, it's tough finding great scripts....That's not the fault of the director. ...It's the way the... cards fall sometimes. You go through atches when it's a sort of desert out there, and then other patches where somehow you seem to get on a roll. And you seem to get good...material....Good movies generate good movies."

"Ridley's jumped to do movies when maybe if he'd waited when he wasn't quite sure this was the right movie, it might have been better for him. ... And I've done the same."

How many directors you think are better than your brother?

"I don't think it's a question you can honestly answer because I look and admire many directors out there. And I look and admire my brother."

"Of my top 10 movies, three... of those movies are my brother's films." (Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator)

You two ever fight?

"Some years a lot. Other years not too much."

What would you fight over?

"It's normally silly things inside the family ... but rarely in terms of business."

"We have a great partnership because Ridley really does love the business end of it...and I love the people end."

The decision to buy Shepperton (Film Studios),... his idea?

"Yes.... I support Rid in terms of business, cause he, we've always done great by it. You know, we've been in business 34 years, I think it is, in terms of (Ridley Scott Associates), which is one of the biggest commercial production companies in world."

Does he get as much joy from that as he does from the creative aspect of.. being on the set with great actors?

"Yeah. Ridley thrives on...activity. He hates holidays."

"He took the whole army, being the nannies and the kids... to a hotel in Ireland. They arrived at the hotel, walked into the lobby. And Rid said, 'This isn't going to work.' They turned round, got on the plane and came home. ... And they spent two weeks in the house in the Cotsells. He's such a creature of habit, yeah. "

What criticism of him do you think is fair?

"We're... both tarred with the same brush, and that is style over content."

"We can hopefully educate the community in...reevaluating that... you can mix both style and content and produce something which is one doesn't hurt the other."

"You look at films like Blade Runner and it was, you know, Ridley's vision of this world.

"To be honest, that vision was a lot to do with where we were brought up in, you know, Newcastle and West Hartlepool, where it rained constantly and was dark and overcast. And there was always...a pessimistic vision of the world."

If he wasn't a director, you could imagine him as a general?

"He is a general at home and on...the set."

Does he have a signature?

"Blade Runner for me is...Ridley's movie. Cause Blade Runner took a piece of his soul as well. Yeah. It was very hard. He did Blade Runner at a time when the film community, Hollywood was not ready for...that sort of obsession with detail."

"He became an animal because he as trying to educate the community in terms of how he made film in terms of how they made film, which was very different then."

"We brought from... England something to the...industry which wasn't... there at the time. Which is our attention to detail, which came really from advertising....But people didn't understand it. They thought ... he was mad."

Give me an example of that where attention to detail makes a difference.

"He knows what's happening in craft service (the operation feeds the cast and crew during a shoot) as well as knowing what's happening, you know, in front of the camera. He knows that that light if it's tweaked here will actually produce that effect on...this face. He knows a particular performance that he's trying to get out of an actor. "

"Something he saw across the other side of a restaurant three years ago. And he stores it. He has this photographic memory."

"In terms of things he brings to the screen, he'll go back 10, 12 years and remember a particular moment with my dad or my mum or the kids....Sometimes I've been privy to that home, and then seeing it on the screen in later years."

What did you like best about Gladiator?

"Everybody said, 'You're crazy. You can't do a toga movie. Toga movies are over.'...but Ridley had this vision. ... And Kubrick did it a long time ago. ...One of Ridley's gods is Kubrick."

He had a vision...different than what everybody else has done with it. So he was actually advancing the process and actually giving the audience something fresh and something different. And he brought all his skills in terms of light and performance and... energy and movement and momentum. He brought it to toga movies in the past, which I felt had been sort of stagnant and static."

Were you surprised that he took Hannibal after doing Gladiator?

"There's a funny story there. Cause I got a call from...(Creative Artists Agency) and they said, 'We've got this book we want you to read. And it's called Hannibal."

"So I got the book, and I got a call the next day. And he said,... 'Rid's read it... so you're out of the picture.'"

"Honestly, he didn't know. It wasn't a competitive thing....And he was in the middle of actually shooting Gladiator. And he read it, I think, over... a night and a half. Yeah? And called Dino (De Laurentiis) and said, 'I want to do this movie.'"

Where is he, in your judgment, in his head having to do with his career?

"He loves activity. Activity generates activity and... it stimulates food for thought, you know? So Rid's not only doing...Gladiator but he's building a house in...Beverly Hills. ...After he's done an 18-hour day, he's got the builder on the phone. And there's Rid obsessing about the finish on the...paint work or on the...bath."

When you were starting out building the commercial business, what was that like?

"I ha it pretty cushy, actually. It was Rid who had all the...risks....And I'd been living on a grant for eight years. So Rid said, 'I've just started this production company. Come in and do some commercials.'

"I had my eye set on doing movies, 'cause I'd done... a half-hour film and then an hour-long film when I was at art school. And I said, 'OK.' So I joined Rid in commercials, and I...didn't draw breath for 10 years.... Great lifestyle. I'm shooting with beautiful girls all around the world and making a lot of money."

Does he take (to) heart the fact that he doesn't have an Oscar?

"We both began with this paint...attitude....It's really the true satisfaction is looking at...the final piece on the canvas and getting...true and honest satisfaction out of believing you've done something unique and fresh and different for you."

What drives Ridley every day and what drives me every day when I'm shooting is to do something different that I've never done before... however small it is."