Cormac McCarthy’s First Screenplay Is Titled ‘The Counselor’

Published 3 years ago by , Updated July 31st, 2013 at 10:33 am,

The lyrically-stark prose and often brutal subject matter of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy’s literature has given rise to some excellent film adaptations in the past, most notably No Country for Old Men and The Road. It’s for that reason that the 78-year-old novelist is considered one of the best (if not the best) American writers working today.

Hence, there’s good reason to be excited about The Counselor, which is the first original feature-length spec script penned by McCarthy. Naturally, his agents are already shopping the screenplay around, looking to attach a top-notch filmmaker to the project – a task they should have little difficulty accomplishing.

McCarthy has previously not been involved with any cinematic adaptation of his literature, with the exception of the HBO TV movie version of his single-setting play, The Sunset Limited, which was directed by the star of No Country for Old Men (and a personal friend of McCarthy), Tommy Lee Jones. It’s partially for that reason that the author’s agents were shocked when he recently handed them the Counselor script, rather than an early draft of his next novel.

Here is how Deadline describes The Counselor:

The terrain of the script is reminiscent of the rough and tumble world depicted in “No Country For Old Men”. The protagonist in “The Counselor” is a respected lawyer who thinks he can dip a toe in to the drug business without getting sucked down. It is a bad decision and he tries his best to survive it and get out of a desperate situation.

In addition, producer Steve Schwartz (The Road) informed the publication that The Counselor takes place in the contemporary Southwest U.S. (“a masculine world”) and differs from the writer’s previous works by featuring two female lead characters. Schwartz also says that the script “may be one of McCarthy’s most disturbing and powerful works.”

Considering the violent stories and unsettling concepts tackled in previous McCarthy works (see: The Road, Blood Meridian, Child of God, etc.) that REALLY IS saying something.

It’s kind of surprising that McCarthy hasn’t tried his hand at penning a feature-length screenplay, before now. His literature often paints a very poetically-detailed portrait of various locales and settings; similarly, McCarthy tends to avoid getting inside the minds of his characters, preferring to instead define them by their actions, rather than thoughts or inner emotions. Many of McCarthy’s novels lend themselves naturally to a visual medium like film, for those very reasons. In fact, No Country for Old Men the book is written almost exactly like a screenplay – hence, it was easy to adapt into a successful movie.

The Counselor sounds like yet another intriguingly dark and uncompromising mix of western and Noir elements from McCarthy; needless to say, it should encounter little difficulty in attracting the interests of a high-profile filmmaker or respectable auteur. Similarly, expect some pretty noteworthy actors and actresses to start circling this project, in the future.

We will keep you updated on the status of The Counselor as more information is released.

Source: Deadline

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  1. I’ll wait to see who directs before I get excited.

  2. Well this has awesome written all over it.

    “No Country For Old Men, the book was written almost exactly like a screenplay – hence, it was so easy to adapt into a successful movie”

    I agree and disagree at the same time. It’s not like you can throw any director behind that work of art and have it turn out as great as it did. The Coens have a knack for dark east Texas bloodshed, if you watch Blood Simple and NCFOM back to back

    • Whoops, I hit publish before I was done.

      If you were to watch them back to back, you would see why they were the best choice for the material.

    • “No Country” began as a screenplay.

      • But so did “Lonesome Dove.” If that matters at all…

  3. I loved the Road

  4. Should be great then. The Road is one of the greatest pieces of modern literature.

  5. McCarthy’s written a screenplay before. The Gardener’s Son (1976).

    • Sorry about that. I changed it to clarify that this is McCarthy’s first feature-length script.

    • The Sunset Limited will be available on varied home video mediums in a few weeks after its cable premiere a year or so back. Dramatic plays and screenplays differ little in scope.

  6. I think McCarthy enjoys the screenplay format because its style allows for director/readers to inject so much interpretation–it functions as a kind of mythical or biblical catch-all. He originally constructed NCFOM as a screenplay and when no one took an interest (I think this was back in the eighties), he “quickly” transformed it into a novel.

    He also wrote a screenplay entitled Whales and men which is very engaging and is so intellectually out of bounds, it would be hard to render into something that modern day viewers would latch onto and care about. I wish I was wrong. Maybe it could potentially be made.

    The Counselor will be a captivating foray into the wilds that only Mccarthy can create. One of the most interesting elements is the fact that two of the main characters are women.

    Thanks for the informative post.

  7. RIDELY SCOTT will direct and Pitt, Bardem, Fassbender & Jolie will star.

  8. That would be RIDLEY (sorry…)

  9. its a truly truly awful script. cormac is an emperor without clothes. like the other “darwinian”, david cronenberg ,he doesnt understand basic biological evolution. he doesnt understand female genital anatomy…not to mention that his fears about china and europe are as cliched as gore vidals(china is collapsing, not europe) and he sounds like martin amis, gov rick perry and john le carre were bottoming out his eardrums as he wrote. theres no country for mccarthy, except texas. and to make matters worse, he’s copied the worst habits of quentin tarantino, who he seems to think of as his intellectual frenemy now. for example: there’s nothing interesting about having the bolito come into the movie after describing it. thats not foreshadowing. same with showing penelope cruzs body. thats not a gut punch. we already know what happened.

  10. also, “no country” worked as a movie because tommy lee jones’ character was severely truncated by the coens, who surgically removed the steamier calf poo. ridley scott wont be able to see through his mccarthy worship and fix the screenplay. this movie will be embarrassing self loathing childish politic noise.

  11. to haters: read Blood Meridean and tell me again how cliché Cormac is..plz people. All hail an American writer who makes …….me read.

    • Blood Meridian was great. It was also his only great novel. The Road was good, everything else not (The Coens simply made a great film from a bad book). But I saw the Counselor, and it’s absolutely, utterly atrocious