Michael Fassbender and Javier Bardem in The CounsellorAhead of the release of The Counsellor, out on DVD and Blu-ray on March 17th filmmaker Ridley Scott discusses the project,his experience with the author Cormac McCarthy, as well his working relationship with the lead, Michael Fassbender. 

How can home theater technology and experience enhance the filmmaker’s role as a storyteller?

Oh, I think it’s obvious. I mean, invariably, The Counselor is a particular example. I’ve put out a film that’s going to run about one hour, fifty-eight minutes with titles, maybe just under two hours. I’ve got a cut that’s completely relevant at about two twenty-five. The two twenty-five, is a bit too long to put into the theater because there’s a tolerance level for the theater. And I think home video is perfect because you’re sitting at home. You can watch a two and half hour movie, and if you want to pause it, you can pause it and you get a beer; you can do whatever you want and then you can come back. So it’s a perfect example of me getting to show my long version before I have to decide on the version for the cinema.

What were your initial impressions of the script?

Yeah, he’s (Cormac McCarthy) one of the great novelists today and like all great novelists, there are many layers in every scene. Sometimes there’s many layers in each speech and they refer to the overall scheme of things within the overall context of the universe in the play, and I think in this instance, it’s marvelous because you know where it’s gonna land. And because there’s a series of moving plates, a bit like the plates of- the plate that’s under the earth before you get an earthquake, they’re all moving. When they touch, you get an earthquake. They grind together and I think I put The Counselor a little bit like that because you’re wondering when these plates are going to touch, and in fact, when are they going to dance and then, when are they going to waltz? Once it starts to waltz, then you’re in for this ride which is quite stressful. It’s quite scary.

Were there whole story elements that will be on the DVD?

The Diamond sequence goes on for six and a half minutes. Fundamentally you can’t have the third scene a six and a half minute scene about buying a diamond even though it’s beautiful, and it’s metaphorical. It refers to the story of overall scheme of things but you only realize that at the end of the movie. That’s the beauty of it, but people do not have that kind of tolerance. So it’s partly my job to work out what is that tolerance. Because it’s not like you’re reading a book and you can put it down. You’ve invested some money in this thing, and actually, you want to make sure that you’re gonna keep bums on seats. It’s my job to keep bums on seats.

Are there insights that you can relay that would excite interest?

The production was very strict. We only did the whole thing in seven weeks, so it was pretty quick, I’m not quick; I’m not fast. I think the most interesting thing was trying to coordinate these stars and get them all together to fit into their schedule because they’re all busy, and it’s all very well saying, I’ll do it, I’ll do it, and there’s five/six people that said, I’ll do it. The next thing is, how do you organize that into a single schedule? That’s really hard.

Is there anything you’ve learned from working with Cormac McCarthy?

That he’s right about most things and that I tend to be – maybe that’s why he chose me to read it first – I tend to be fairly uncompromising in terms of over-apologizing or over-explaining myself in the storytelling. Or even softening the blow at the end when it shouldn’t be softened, which is maybe why he gave me the script to read first. And I’ll pay the price for that. Specifically things like Blade Runner just got walked all over twenty-seven years ago, but it’s still alive after all these years, and I’m not going to remake it.

Why do you and Michael Fassbender have such a sound working relationship?

I’m very straightforward, and he’s very straightforward, and we cut to the chase. And he says what he thinks and I say what I think, and I think that makes a pretty good combination.

The Counsellor is out now on Digital HD and out on 17 March on Blu-ray/DVD from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Read our review of the film here.