Ridley Scott defends ‘The Counselor’ and preps to direct ‘The Cartel’

Michael Fassbender gets into deep trouble south of the border in ‘The Counselor.’
Michael Fassbender gets into deep trouble south of the border in ‘The Counselor.’ 20TH CENTURY FOX

During an interview to promote his upcoming film adaptation of The Martian starring Matt Damon, I asked director Ridley Scott how he felt about the critical and commercial pounding his thriller The Counselor received when it was released in the fall of 2013.

Based on the first original screenplay written by author Cormac McCarthy (Blood Meridian, No Country for Old Men), The Counselor starred Michael Fassbender as a lawyer who dabbles in the Mexican drug trade in order to make a quick profit, with disastrous consequences.

Despite its formidable pedigree and cast (which included Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz), The Counselor flopped, grossing a measly $17 milion in the U.S. and earning largely negative reviews (although the movie did have some passionate defenders).

But Scott says he wouldn’t change a frame.

“Cormac McCarthy sent me the script and I was blown away by the material,” he said. “I loved the complexity of it, all the details that showed how this particular situation evolved. The dialogue was fantastic – the best dialogue I’ve ever had. The film was so nihilistic. But so what? Occasionally, nihilism is an interesting subject. Apocalype Now, Aguirre: The Wrath of God and The Godfather are all nihilistic.

“But because The Counselor was so focused on the characters and the price [Fassbender’s character] would pay, it became quite a lot to stomach, I think. It upset a lot of people. But [the movie] is filled with great performances. The cast was fantastic. How great was Rubén Blades as the head of the cartel, right? The reason [author Don Winslow] chose me to direct the movie adaptation of his book The Cartel is because of The Counselor. So I’m very happy with it.”

The Martian lands in theaters Oct. 2.