Whoa, Cormac McCarthy Sells Spec Screenplay 'The Counselor'

Wednesday, 18 January 2012 09:44 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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Whoa, Cormac McCarthy Sells Spec Screenplay 'The Counselor'

With his stripped down prose almost entirely devoid of punctuation, strangely elegant depictions of violence, and focus on Western imagery and themes, Cormac McCarthy is a distinctly American novelist and a national treasure.  The Pulitzer Prize winning author has seen his work adapted to film three times, most notably in 2007's No Country for Old Men, but now, at 78 years old, McCarthy has surprisingly written his first screenplay, which has already been acquired by producers who have tackled his work before.

It seems McCarthy's literary agents were awaiting his next novel, and the author suddenly dropped a script entitled The Counselor before returning to work on that novel.  The story, set in the Southwest, follows a successful lawyer who attempts to become involved in the drug trade without the expected grievous consequences.  Of course, that's not the case, and his situation becomes increasingly desperate.

According to Deadline, the screenplay has been snatched up by the trio of Nick Wechsler, Steve Schwartz, and Paula Mae Schwartz, all three of whom produced The Road, the 2009 adaptation of McCarthy's Pulitzer-winning novel starring Viggo Mortensen.  "Since McCarthy himself wrote the script, we get his own muscular prose directly, with its sexual obsessions," explained Steve Schwartz.  "It’s a masculine world into which, unusually, two women intrude to play leading roles. McCarthy’s wit and humor in the dialogue make the nightmare even scarier. This may be one of McCarthy’s most disturbing and powerful works.”

The producers are currently busy preparing The Host, an adaptation of the young adult novel by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer.  That film begins production in mid-February with Saoirse Ronan starring and Mike Niccol directing.

At the same time, they're searching for financiers on The Counselors, and as soon as the money is in place, they'll seek out a director to handle McCarthy's screenwriting debut.  More than a decade ago, Billy Bob Thornton became the first director to take on a McCarthy novel, with All the Pretty Horses, a film version of the first book in the author's Border Trilogy.  Joel Coen and Ethan Coen directed No Country for Old Men, arguably the most successful translation of McCarthy's style, and John Hillcoat oversaw The Road, as bleak a post-apocalyptic movie as you're likely to find.

While The Counselor is the first feature screenplay from the novelist, he did previously adapt his own stage play into a teleplay for last year's HBO movie The Sunset Limited, directed by Tommy Lee Jones and starring both Jones and Samuel L. Jackson.

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