Domino Harvey was a British beauty born to wealth and privilege.
The daughter of British actor Laurence Harvey and a frequent subject of British tabloid stories, she modeled on the runways of Europe before leaving the limelight to become a bounty hunter in South Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, carrying around her shotgun, Betsy.
In the shadow of Hollywood, Harvey's life made for perfect cinema. So much so that her exploits working for one of L.A.'s most famous bail bondsmen, Celes King III, inspired a big-budget movie to be released in August starring Keira Knightley.
But this week, just after director Tony Scott completed work on the picture, Harvey was found unconscious in the bathtub of her West Hollywood home. She later died. The Los Angeles County coroner's office had not determined a cause of death, though officials said they doubted foul play was involved.
Her death stunned Scott, Knightley and others who worked on the movie and made the 35-year-old once again fodder for the British tabloids.
The last few months of her life, however, were far from a happy Hollywood ending. She faced up to 10 years in federal prison on a federal grand jury indictment in Mississippi accusing her of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, distribution of methamphetamine and Oxycodone, and racketeering. She also pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and was ordered into a treatment program.
A veteran of long periods in rehab, including two years at a top-dollar Hawaiian facility, Harvey was with "minders" from a 12-step program when she died, said British author Peter Evans, who described himself as her godfather.
"One of her favorite quotes was 'Heads you live and tails you die.' That to me encapsulates how she lived her life," Scott said. "There was nothing as intoxicating, not even drugs, as actually kicking down a door and wondering what was on the other side."
Harvey's mother was British Vogue model Paulene Stone, one of the faces of the '60s. Her father died when she was 4.
Her mother met and married Peter Morton, the Hard Rock Cafe impresario. The couple moved to United States while Harvey attended a series of exclusive British boarding schools.
"I think it was fear of the unknown and being alone that made me so aggressive," she once told the British paper Mail on Sunday.
She claimed in news reports to have been a model with the prestigious Ford agency, but no one there remembers her.
She came to the States and turned up first as a ranch hand near San Diego, then as a firefighter.
About 1993, the girl from Mayfair took to the streets of South Los Angeles, working as a bail recovery agent for the Celes King Bail Bond Agency.
"She was a real-life bounty hunter. She did her share of recoveries: drug pushers, beaters and some tough guys accused of murder," said Teri King, daughter of the founder and now president of King Bail Bond Agency.
"In those days, like most bounty hunters, she packed a gun. I remember her talking war stories with my father," a renowned civil rights activist as well as a bail bondsman, King said.
A British tabloid reporter once described the tall blond pointing a shotgun at a bail jumper's stomach as he lay at her feet.
Harvey, one of few women in the recovery business, worked with another bounty hunter, Ed Martinez, a Vietnam veteran. They were an odd couple. "Her English accent was kind of disarming. People would never think she was there for them," King said.
"She did it for at least a couple of years in the early 1990s. The last time I saw her was 1998, when she came to visit my dad about a high-profile fugitive," King said. Scott said he picked up Harvey's story in the 1990s from a British tabloid and tracked her down.
She remained part of his life for the next dozen years, he said.
"She's an extraordinary character. On one hand, she was an adrenaline junkie by nature of what she did. On the other, she's a bit of a wounded bird. A fascinating little thing," Scott said.
"I helped her through some hard times, whether it was money or advice," he said. "She was like a surrogate daughter to me."
The director said he was aware of Harvey's drug use, although he never saw it, and knew she had been to drug rehabilitation centers more than once. "She always liked conducting life wide open and maximum-throttle," he said.
Scott recalled another of her mottoes: "It's a great day to die. Now I gotta go to work."
The film is only loosely based on her life, he said. "The story is manufactured, but it's a story about that world. It's an outrageous piece of rock 'n' roll." Scott said Harvey was happy that the movie, a dozen years in the making, was finally off the ground. He said it made her feel "classy."
She was around for the last two or three weeks of filming and "in great shape," he added.
But in May, federal authorities accused Harvey and Eric Pae of possession with intent to distribute a large amount of methamphetamine in Harrison County, Miss. They were also charged with distributing 11 doses of Oxycodone.