On August 20, 2012, Ridley Scott halted production of the film due to his brother Tony Scott's death. He canceled that week's shoot in order to travel to Los Angeles to be with his brother's family. Scott returned to London to resume production on September 3, 2012.
Cameron Diaz's character Malkina is Argentinian in Cormac McCarthy's screenplay. The country of origin was changed to Barbados for the film. This decision was seemingly made to better fit Diaz' physical appearance to her character's ethnicity.
The film's main Counselor character remains nameless, as do a few other characters with speaking parts: The Blonde, The Diamond Dealer, The Priest, The Wireman, etc. And no one in the film goes by a complete first & last name.
Lead actor Michael Fassbender blamed in one interview the divisive reactions to The Counselor (2013) on his performance, but he also said, that he always does that when one of his films is not a success.
The film was born out of Ridley Scott's failed attempts to bring Cormac McCarthy's novel "Blood Meridian" to the screen. McCarthy and Scott knew each other since then and when McCarthy offered the screenplay for The Counselor (2013) suddenly on the market, Scott didn't hesitate, met with McCarthy and bought the script.
In the refurbished nightclub the camera shifts focus from the Counselor to a large b/w photo of actor Steve McQueen in a sailor's uniform. It's a still from The Sand Pebbles (1966). McQueen shot Sam Peckinpah's The Getaway (1972) in El Paso, Texas where this scene of The Counselor (2013) is set and died nearby in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on November 7, 1980 after a risky and unsuccessful cancer surgery. Except from the still photo there is also a verbal reference to McQueen himself: He remarked once on his lifelong love of motor racing: "Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting." Screenwriter Cormac McCarthy adapted McQueen's well-known quote into the following line of dialogue: "Life is being in bed with you. Everything else is just waiting."
When Westray (played by Brad Pitt) tells of his encounter with a Mexican doorman who gave him the black eye, he ends by saying "but that was in another country and besides the wretch is dead", which is a quote from Christopher Marlowe's play "The Jew Of Malta", although there it's "wench" instead of "wretch".
Paula Thomas also contributed to the film's wardrobe by dressing Cameron Diaz with roughly 15 different outfits. "[It wasn't until] I read the script that I realized why [Scott] called upon me," said Thomas. "[Cameron's] character has a lot of elements of a Thomas Wylde woman. [She's] bold, edgy, modern. She's about wanting to be seen, as opposed to blending into the background."
Brad Pitt's breakthrough role was in Ridley Scott's Thelma & Louise (1991), as the sexy young cowboy who seduces one of the leads and steals her money. Reunited with Scott here, Pitt's cowboy character falls for a similar scam and is robbed of his savings. It's a gender-reversed variation of a similar scenario.
Cameron Diaz initially played Malkina with a thick Bajan accent, which tested poorly with preview audiences. 20th Century Fox subsequently requested that Diaz re-dub the majority of her lines, much to her chagrin. As a consequence of the dubbing, Diaz refused to promote the film upon its release.
The Bentley Continental cabrio the counsellor drives to Bardem's party at the beginning of the movie is the latest model (2011-present) while the one he drives to see Brad Pitt for the negotiation is the previous model (2003-2011).