Read an Excerpt from Cormac McCarthy’s Script for The Counselor

The New Yorker has published an excerpt of Cormac McCarthy’s script for The Counselor, a film directed by Ridley Scott that will come out this fall.

An excerpt of the excerpt:

the kid rakes an object from under the paper into his helmet and puts down the paper and stands and puts the helmet under his arm and crosses the plaza to his bike and puts his foot over the bike and starts it and pulls his gloves from the helmet and lays them on the tank in front of him and pulls on the helmet and fastens the strap and then pulls on the gloves and kicks back the stand and pulls away into the traffic.

night. two-lane blacktop road through the high desert. A car passes and the lights recede down the long straight and fade out. A man walks out from the scrub cedars that line the road and stands in the middle of the road and lights a cigarette. He is carrying a roll of thin braided wire over one shoulder. He continues across the road to the fence. A tall metal pipe is mounted to one of the fence posts and at the top—some twenty feet off the ground—is a floodlight. The man pushes the button on a small plastic sending unit and the light comes on, flooding the road and the man’s face. He turns it off and walks down the fence line a good hundred yards to the corner of the fence and here he drops the coil of wire to the ground and takes a flashlight from his back pocket and puts it in his teeth and takes a pair of leather gloves from his belt and puts them on. Then he loops the wire around the corner post and pulls the end of the wire through the loop and wraps it about six times around the wire itself and tucks the end several times inside the loop and then takes the wire in both hands and hauls it as tight as he can get it. Then he takes the coil of wire and crosses the road, letting out the wire behind him. In the cedars on the far side, a flatbed truck is parked with the bed of the truck facing the road. There is an iron pipe at the right rear of the truck bed mounted vertically in a pair of collars so that it can slide up and down and the man threads the wire through a hole in the pipe and pulls it taut and stops it from sliding back by clamping the wire with a pair of vise grips. Then he walks back out to the road and takes a tape measure from his belt and measures the height of the wire from the road surface. He goes back to the truck and lowers the iron pipe in its collars and clamps it in place again with a threaded lever that he turns by hand against the vertical rod. He goes out to the road and measures the wire again and comes back and wraps the end of the wire through a heavy three-inch iron ring and walks to the front of the truck, where he pulls the wire taut and wraps it around itself to secure the ring at the end of the wire and then pulls the ring over a hook mounted in the side rail of the truck bed. He stands looking at it. He strums the wire with his fingers. It gives off a deep resonant note. He unhooks the ring and walks the wire to the rear of the truck until it lies slack on the ground and in the road. He lays the ring on the truck bed and goes around and takes a walkie-talkie from a work bag in the cab of the truck and stands in the open door of the truck, listening. He checks his watch by the dome light in the cab.

9 thoughts on “Read an Excerpt from Cormac McCarthy’s Script for The Counselor”

  1. great stuff. very cinematic. hope the rest of the script lives up to this portion. i’ve heard rumors from reputable people that it’s terrible. (and indeed, i read the first few pages of the “leaked” counselor script, and the writing was atrocious. hopefully the copy i read was a fake.)


  2. No doubt he will. The only hope I have is that Cormac was frequently present on set to make sure things were going well, so those scenes might turn out decent. Scott can always fuck up the other scenes and massacre the film in the editing room, though.


  3. The leaked script was sorta the real thing, but I thought it was sorta terrible.

    Someone had the script, but they could only get their hands on it for a day or so before they had to return it, which explains all the weird formatting and spelling it had. They may have added to it, they may not have gotten everything down. Who knows. This published excerpt is almost word for word with the leaked script, which has me feeling bummed out.

    Photos of the actors on set match the description of characters from the script down to their clothes, tattoos, locations, ect. Seems to be the real thing.

    If it’s edited down and things are moved around the movie could be a decent little thriller, but some parts of the script were laugh out loud bad. It almost felt like a Robert Rodriguez spoof film written with zero self-awareness.

    McCarthy has written some poor scripts in the past but has followed up with good novels. Whales and Men was similarly bad, and in his No Country script Sheriff Bell and Lewellyn teamed up to take down Chigur in final shootout that kind of reminded me of Cage and Cusack teaming up in Con-Air. Hopefully this script is just another example of McCarthy’s seeming inability to write good films and isn’t symptomatic of a general decline, as he has advances for two more novels that I look forward to.

    Or maybe I’m just full of shit and the script is good.


    1. Wait….are you suggesting that it was *not* awesome when Cage and Cusack teamed up in CON AIR? :)

      I don’t think McCarthy’s in decline, although it’s likely he’s not gonna top the one-two punch of SUTTREE and BLOOD MERIDIAN, which is fine. I actually think NO COUNTRY is probably his best novel after those two.

      The script…who knows? It seems very precise.


  4. I stopped reading the leaked Counselor script after the atrocious pillow talk scene…was SURE it wasn’t legit, so I deleted it from my computer. So surprising to hear he actually wrote that stuff.

    I have a fantasy that McCarthy has a mammoth, 2666esque manuscript that he’s been toiling over for years and years, and after he dies we will be treated to a posthumous revelation. The manuscript will unify and heighten our conception of the McCarthyverse, as well as his missteps, and will go down as his masterpiece.

    Seems like his writing is getting more and more commercially profitable–which is fine–but sometimes not as fun to bathe in. Regardless, I await The Passenger with bated breath.


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