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 filmmaker, as tributes poured in for a man described as "one of the world's true originals".
The 68-year-old, originally from North Shields in England, was best known for action-packed Hollywood blockbusters, including Days Of Thunder and Beverly Hills Cop II.
Scott, younger brother of filmmaker 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.
As well as his movie work, he also produced hit US television shows Numb3rs and The Good Wife.
Director Ron Howard also paid tribute to Scott, tweeting: "No more Tony Scott movies. Tragic day."
Stephen Fry said: "Deeply saddened to hear the news about Tony Scott. A fine film-maker and the most charming, modest man."
Shaun Of The Dead filmmaker Edgar Wright tweeted: "As I hope was evident in my work, I was big fan of his. Rest In Peace, sir."
Filmmaker Spike Lee offered his "prayers and blessings to the family of fellow director Tony Scott and brother Ridley".
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 said she was "saddened" by his death. She described him on Twitter as "a wonderful filmmaker and a funny, sweet guy".
* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78