Counselor, The: Javier Bardem

the_counselor_4Penelope Cruz’s real-life husband, Javier Bardem plays Reiner, a larger-than-life nightclub owner who brings The Counselor into the shady deal.

The Counselor marks Bardem’s return to a world envisioned by McCarthy, whose celebrated novel No Country for Old Men became an equally hailed motion picture, in which Bardem turned in an Oscar winning performance as the assassin Anton Chigurh.

Reiner straddles two worlds: the extravagant and decadent realm of a nightclub owner, and the brutal, lawless and merciless criminal underworld that is rapidly closing in on The Counselor, and on Reiner. Reiner appears to possess special insight into The Counselor’s increasingly dire circumstances, but he’s just as much a potential victim of a life he little understands.

Bardem found McCarthy’s script for The Counseor both intriguing and powerful, and relished being back in McCarthy terrain again. Says the actor: “It’s rare to find material where lengthy scenes of dialogue can evoke such powerful images. I was immediately hooked. I knew that for an actor this dialogue was a gift.”

“I used Cormac’s words to create my character, and the phrase that Reiner repeats constantly is ‘I don’t know.’ I wanted to have the look of somebody who’s in the dark. I also explored the idea that Reiner chose to ignore information or knowledge that might get in the way of an easy life.”

Strong Female Leads

Strong female leads are a Scott hallmark and Cameron Diaz portrays one of the filmmaker’s toughest and darkest characters ever. Diaz brings a rich history of comedic and dramatic work to her portrayal of Malkina, Reiner’s malevolent girlfriend. She is a sociopath whose lack of empathy means she’s capable of anything. Malkina’s power stems from her relentless drive to take control and possess anything she believes she deserves. Whatever the consequences of her actions, she feels absolutely no remorse.

Diaz immediately responded to the script. “Malkina is a sociopath, and extremely smart. She is capable of anything. There is no humanity in Malkina. The two questions she’s always asking herself are: how can I get what I deserve? What do I have coming to me? Nothing else, no one else, is of any concern to her. Malkina is so powerful because she understands the consequences of her actions more than any other character.

“The only thing she wants is more [of everything],” adds Diaz. “Malkina is compelled to take the power of every man, devour it, and then break down every woman.”

“Malkina might remind you of Javier’s role [as Chigurh] in No Country for Old Men,” says McCarthy. “Neither character has a sense of humor; maybe that’s the hallmark of a psychopath. She smiles a few times, but it’s not a smile that will cheer you.”

Diaz, who shares most of her scenes with Bardem, describes the characters’ complicated relationship: “Malkina has found her sweet spot in Reiner. He is a man who will do anything for her, and of course, she had created that scenario. Inadvertently, he has allowed her to take control of his world, to insert herself amidst his business dealings and take what she believes she deserves. Worse still, she has a good time doing it. Ruining people’s lives is a sport for her. It makes her feel alive. Reiner desperately wants to make her happy but she will never be happy. He will always keep trying, which means she can get whatever she wants, however she wants it and just give him enough to keep coming back.”

“It’s a unique relationship,” Bardem elaborates. “Reiner has reached a point in his life where he believes he has control over everything, and everyone. And then he finds Malkina, who begins to take control over his life. And while that’s exciting for Reiner, it also scares him.”