Film director Tony Scott was suffering from inoperable brain cancer when he jumped to his death from a bridge in Los Angeles, it has been reported.
The claim was made by ABC News in the United States, citing sources close to the Top Gun film-maker, as tributes poured in for a man described as "one of the world's true originals".
The 68-year-old, originally from North Shields, was best known for action-packed Hollywood blockbusters including Days Of Thunder and Beverly Hills Cop II. Scott, younger brother of film-maker Ridley Scott, leapt from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in LA.
Lieutenant Joe Bale, of the county coroner's office, said the death was being treated as a suicide.
British actress Keira Knightley, who worked with Scott on his 2005 film Domino, in which she starred as a bounty hunter, said: "Tony Scott was one of the most extraordinary, imaginative men I ever worked with. It was a privilege to have spent the time I did with him. He was a firecracker and one of the world's true originals."
A dive team pulled Scott's body from the water several hours after members of the public alerted emergency services, having seen him jump from the bridge. A suicide note is said to have been found at his office and he had left contact details in his black Toyota Prius parked close to the scene.
He was behind numerous slick action movies and worked with some of the biggest names in the film world, including Tom Cruise, Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington.
Scott, who lived in Beverly Hills, was married to actress Donna Scott, his third wife with whom he had twin sons. He ran Scott Free Productions with his brother and the pair were working on a film called Killing Lincoln. His other films included box-office hits such as True Romance, Crimson Tide, Enemy Of The State and Man On Fire.
British film director Duncan Jones, who directed Moon and Source Code, was among those who praised Scott as the movie world was united in grief. He said: "Tony was a truly lovely man who took me under his wing and ignited my passion to make films. What a sad waste. My thoughts go out to his wife and beautiful children."
Director Ron Howard also paid tribute to Scott, writing on Twitter: "No more Tony Scott movies. Tragic day." Val Kilmer, who played Iceman in Top Gun, tweeted: "RIP Tony. You were the kindest film director I ever worked for. You will be missed." Actress Susan Sarandon described him on Twitter as "a wonderful filmmaker and a funny, sweet guy".