Postcards From Hollywood: Uncle Tony

In part two of her ongoing series, Daniela De Carlo remembers one of her mentors, the late, great Tony Scott, who she met working on Domino.

In 2004, a friend of mine who was an A.D. called me to ask if I’d be interested in working on a Tony Scott movie. I said, “No fucking way.” Just kidding, I said, “Let me think about it.” After all, his movies include Top Gun, True Romance, Days of Thunder, Crimson Tide, Enemy of the State and Man on Fire. Are you insane? I obviously said yes. Duh?! Hard yes! Turns out that, luckily for me, one of the main actors in the movie was from Venezuela and he needed a bilingual assistant. The movie was Domino, and the actor was Edgar Ramírez.

Edgar and I became fast friends and Tony, from day one, mistakenly thought we were related. He would introduce me as Edgar’s cousin and we’d always correct him, but he kept doing it, so it became an inside joke and we started referring to him as “Uncle Tony.” Jokes aside, he liked me, and I adored him, and he adopted me as part of his movie family. My now-husband (then boyfriend), composer Pedro Bromfman, and I spent Thanksgiving at Tony’s house that year. We met Donna, his wife, their twins and his extended family. We smoked cigars and drank red wine until the wee hours of the morning. After that, we kept being invited to family events, intimate dinners and big premiere parties.

Tony Scott with Daniela De Carlo. (Photo by Daniela Scaramuzza.)

When Domino wrapped, I was hired as a full-time assistant at RSA, the commercial production company Tony owned with his brother Ridley. RSA sponsored my first work visa in the US and Tony then became a mentor. He’d watch my shorts and give me feedback, encouraging me. I still remember his reaction after I showed him the first thing I ever directed, a 30-second spec commercial that was kind of like a mini romcom. He chuckled and said: “That was good. Funny, warm and clever, and if you can tell a story in 30 seconds, you can tell it in two hours. Well done, darling!”

The best thing about working at RSA was being able to see and hug Tony every day. He was warm, sweet and generous; and one of my favorite humans to date. Such a class act. I mean… the guy would hand-write notes with fountain pens and doodle self-portraits as thank you cards! One day, as he was giving me a tour of his home office, I asked him who was the best actor he’d ever worked with. Without missing a beat, he said it was Dakota Fanning. “She was nine going on 99, and she was brilliant.” His answer taught me so much about who he was. He didn’t care about power or fame. He genuinely loved what he did and you could feel it. He was über successful and yet down to earth. And he was truthful, which was particularly inspiring in a town like Hollywood.

I was devastated when he took his own life. It had been a while since I had last seen him and like most people, I didn’t know he was struggling. Wherever he is, I hope he is proud of me, and that he knows what an impact he had on me, both professionally and personally.

Occasionally, I crave his favorite snack (Walkers shortbread fingers with PG Tips), and whenever that happens, I feel like it’s him, playfully poking me to indulge him with an earthly pleasure. I am always, of course, happy to oblige, and if I close my eyes, I can see his Montblanc pen elegantly dancing on the white card: “Many, many thanks for my delicious treat. Always yours, Uncle Tony.”

Daniela De Carlo’s latest feature, The Blackout, was released by Gravitas Ventures and is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime. Originally from Argentina, she worked her way up from P.A. to writer-director-producer, collaborating along the way with a myriad of industry heavyweights such as Alexander Payne, Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich, David E. Kelley, and Tony Scott. In 2010, she helmed the romcom Qualquer Gato Vira-Lata for Buena Vista International, which opened wide in Brazil to unprecedented box office success, and was one of six Hispanic directors on the 2014 feature drama Blue Lips. She was awarded the NBC/Universal Directing Fellowship and appointed to the USA Network show Royal Pains, and as a recipient of the inaugural NBC Female Forward program, recently helmed an episode of the primetime show Chicago Med. She is currently developing a biopic series about Xuxa, the most famous Brazilian pop star of all time. Daniela will exec produce, write and direct, in partnership with Xuxa and Gullane Filmes. She lives in Los Angeles. (Photo by Sari Thayer.)