Counselor, The: Michael Fassbender

the_counselor_9With Scott directing McCarthy’s original screenplay, The Counselor garnered significant attention, and the filmmakers began to assemble a dream cast. “It’s a great group of actors playing enticing characters you haven’t seen before on screen,” says Wechsler.

Michael Fassbender

Michael Fassbender’s The Counselor – his given name is not revealed – is a lawyer who is tempted to enter a murky and dangerous world to make some quick cash. He soon learns that a single bad decision can have shocking and irreversible consequences. Although he receives many warnings about the potential dangers of getting involved in this deal, The Counselor’s arrogance won’t let him stop.

McCarthy describes The Counselor as a classical figure in tragedy. “He’s a decent man who gets up one morning and decides to do something wrong. And that’s all it takes. Some people can live hideous lives, do everything wrong, and die peacefully in their beds at age 102. The Counselor is not one of them.”

Fassbender was Scott’s sole choice for the role of The Counselor. Fassbender has shown himself to be as diverse an actor as he is authentic, from his breakthrough role in Hunger to more recent roles in X-Men: First Class, Shame and Scott’s 2012 blockbuster Prometheus. Fearless, cool, and charming, Fassbender can do it all – and he embraced the opportunity to reunite with Scott and bring to life McCarthy’s protagonist.

“It was so well written, sophisticated and balanced, and while there’s a lot of information there, Cormac had left enough space for an actor to fill it in,” says Fassbender. “It was just a masterful piece of work.” He adds: “And I just love working with Ridley. It’s like a master class every day.”

Perhaps The Counselor’s greatest failing is his hubris. “He thinks he’s smarter than he is,” says Fassbender. “He is given enough opportunity to get out of the deal, yet he repeatedly says he’s all right, and he is obviously not all right. There’s a blind arrogance that drives him forward.”

The Counselor finds himself way out of his depth when an unplanned series of events lead to tragic consequences for both him and his fiancée, Laura (Penélope Cruz).

If there’s an innocent in this story, then it is Laura, a beautiful woman with whom The Counselor, says Fassbender, “has fallen profoundly in love.”

Penelope Cruz

the_counselor_6Cruz and Fassbender’s first scene together, which opens the film, conveys the depth of their feelings for one another, through an intimacy rarely depicted on screen. “There is spectacular heat in the characters’ relationship, and we experience that right away in that opening scene,” says Scott. “It’s the kind of intimacy that goes from zero to sixty in no time at all.”

Adds McCarthy: “I don’t know when was the last time I saw a film where two people I love, made love. It’s apparently a thing of the past. So I thought I would try and bring that back. The opening scene is graphic, and the two characters speak like adults.”

A less sexually-charged, though equally powerful scene between the two characters plays out in an emotional dinner, during which The Counselor proposes marriage to Laura. “I wanted that to be touching and real, and depict how much they need each other,” says Scott.

But their joyous engagement is marred by the dangerous world of which The Counselor has become a part. Laura is beautiful and naïve; she sees the best in everybody. Her intelligence and foresight – and her love for The Counselor – are no match for his descent into the rabbit hole, and they both face tragic consequences if the deal he has made with unseen, powerful forces, goes south.

“Laura is what he prizes most,” says McCarthy. “What happens to them is unspeakable.”