You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Underappreciated Film: Guillermo del Toro on Ridley Scott’s ‘The Counselor’

Guillermo del Toro has often been a champion for forgotten or underappreciated films, and that description could certainly apply to Ridley Scott’s bleak, Cormac McCarthy-scripted drug-war meditation “The Counselor,” which was greeted largely by critical boos when it came out in 2013.

“I don’t know if I subscribe to the term of ‘underappreciated,’ because I think each movie finds its audience,” del Toro says. “We all know that this is a business. But we also should acknowledge that it’s an art, and just like a painting or a movie or a dinner-play, a film often finds its audience that absolutely loves it on a molecular level. And it may be a handful of people or it may be a lot of people. But ‘The Counselor’ to me is filled with things that, as a Mexican, I understand on that level. I know that death, and finality, and tragedy exist right around the corner in everybody’s life. And that once you cross that line, as Ruben Blades says, the world will not take you back.

“I’m a lapsed Catholic, and I’m a Mexican Catholic, so I understand the tale of a man who thinks he controls the world and then dips his toe into a dimension that he thinks he understands, that he doesn’t, and that dipping of the toe completely destroys his life. I love that. There are very few crime movies that manage to tackle that incredibly existential limit. I think the ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ is another one that is just so ruthless in that same way. ‘Killing Them Softly,’ which is based on the same types of characters, also is tremendously hardcore about this edge. You don’t go past this edge, and if you go, there’s a whole other world.

“When my father was kidnapped, everything in my life, for the rest of my life, changed. I find it really dangerous when people fictionalize the drug-dealing business as just another good guys-bad guys fable. I think ‘The Counselor’ has the sort of quotidian regality and relentless brutality that the business really has. And rarely do you see it portrayed in those terms.

“I also think there are just scenes in there that hold a strange fascination to me. The diamond seller played by Bruno Ganz, and how it serves as a viewpoint for the darkness of the rest of the movie, I think is just brilliant.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Suro

    Lastor, ‘The Endless Trench’s’ Irusoin, Malmo Team for Mikel Gurrea’s ‘Suro’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN – Barcelona-based Lastor Media and Malmo Pictures have teamed with San Sebastian’s Irusoin to produce “Suro” (The Cork), the feature debut of Mikel Gurrea and a product of San Sebastian’s Ikusmira Berriak program. The film stars Laia Costa, who broke through with Sebastian Schipper’s “Victoria” and also serves as executive producer, and Pol López [...]

  • Ane

    Madrid’s ECAM Incubator Develops Terrorism Drama 'Ane'

    SAN SEBASTIAN — For the second year in a row, the ECAM Madrid Film School has paired a number of up-and-coming filmmakers with various industry veterans for an Incubator program part of the school broader development arm called The Screen. For its initial edition in 2018, this Incubator selected five feature projects, putting the selected [...]

  • Roma Cinematography

    'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' and 'Roma' Win LMGI Awards for Motion Pictures

    Two major 2018 releases – actioner “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” and critics’ darling “Roma” – were honored for film location work by the Location Managers Guild International at a ceremony this evening at the Eli & Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica. The 6th Annual LMGI Awards also recognized “Chernobyl” and “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” [...]

  • Soho House

    Soho House Lands In Downtown Los Angeles

    Warner Music, Spotify and Lyft are poised to welcome a new neighbor to downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District with Soho Warehouse, the third California outpost of the Hollywood-loved members-only club — and the largest North American opening to date. Hot on the heels of the Soho House Hong Kong debut earlier this summer, the private [...]

  • Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider'

    Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider' Gets a Concert/Screening Premiere at Radio City

    In a year full of major 50th anniversary commemorations — from Woodstock to the moon landing — why not one for “Easy Rider,” Dennis Hopper’s hippie-biker flick that was released on July 14, 1969? That was the idea when a rep for Peter Fonda, who starred in the film as the laid-back Captain America, reached out [...]

  • Costa Gavras

    Costa-Gavras and Cast on Nationality, Identity, and Cinema

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Though he’s been based in Paris since 1955 and came up through the French film industry, director Costa-Gavras has never forgotten his roots. “Those who are born Greek,” said the Peloponnese-born filmmaker at a Saturday press conference,  “stay Greek all their lives.” Related Guillermo Del Toro's 'Antlers' Starring Keri Russell Drops Chilling [...]

  • Lorene Scafaria, Jennifer Lopez. Lorene Scafaria,

    'Hustlers' Director Lorene Scafaria: 'We Wanted to Treat It Like a Sports Movie'

    The star-studded cast of “Hustlers” didn’t just become strippers in the empowering female-helmed blockbuster — they also became athletes. When speaking to “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast, at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month, “Hustlers” director Lorene Scafaria explained the extreme athleticism required of the movie’s leading actresses, who all had [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content