Out of the Furnace - Russell Baze (Christian Bale) and Rodney Baze Jr (Casey Affleck) ©2012 Relativity Media, photo by Kerry Hayes

Writer/director Scott Cooper takes the audience on an intense journey with his new drama Out of the Furnace.

Set in Braddock, Pennsylvania, the film stars Christian Bale as Russell Baze, a steel worker, and Casey Affleck as his brother Rodney, who has returned home after four brutal tours of Iraq. When a cruel twist of fate lands Russell in prison, Rodney enters the dark world of bare-knuckle fighting in order to support his family. When Rodney disappears shortly after his brother is released from jail, Russell is determined to find him and bring him home.

Christian and Casey spoke of their dynamic roles at the press junket for the movie.

What was it about the script or character that intrigued you both?

Out of the Furnace – Rodney Baze Jr (Casey Affleck) ©2012 Relativity Media, photo by Kerry Hayes

Casey: It is an unusual script. It feels very real and the stakes are very high. I immediately realized that it was unique and I wanted to be a part of it.

Christian: I found it riveting. I read it with the enjoyment you would a book, which is very rare with a script because they’re not set up that way.

There was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on that fascinated me.

What was it like working together?

Out of the Furnace – Russell Baze (Christian Bale) ©2012 Relativity Media, photo by Kerry Hayes

Christian: Scott and I were adamant about having Casey as Rodney. This is nothing that we’ve ever seen him do before. He’s formidable.

It is one of the best performances I’ve seen in many years. The brotherhood of Russell and Rodney represents the brotherhood of America in the movie.

Casey: When you work with good actors, it makes you better. I never really understood quite what that meant until I worked with Christian.

He is one of the very best around and he makes everyone in a six-foot radius seem better. I’m awed by his work ethic and how he commits to a role.

This is a very physical role for you Casey, how did you train for it?

Casey: The role had very specific demands that were challenging for me. I’m not and never had been a fighter.

Trying to find the balance between getting in shape for the fights and dealing with the reality that he has been damaged physically from the war was arduous work.

Can you talk a little about working with Scott Cooper?

Casey: He empowered and emboldened all of the actors. His positivity brought the cast and crew together and made people to where they should be in the scene.

Out of the Furnace – Russell Baze (Christian Bale) ©2012 Relativity Media, photo by Kerry Hayes

Christian: For someone like him to make something that special (Crazy Heart) in his first movie is quite phenomenal.

The timing [for this film] couldn’t be worked out, but Scott insisted he wouldn’t make the film without me. He kept saying, You are the actor I want to play Russell Baze. I don’t want anybody else.’

Scott is a man of his word with incredible integrity and dignity. I assumed he would go off and make the movie with somebody else, but he meant what he said.

When I finished The Dark Knight Rises, I checked in with him and he was waiting. So we put it together and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had making a movie.

Casey, as the veteran returning home from Iraq you gave a very raw and real performance, did you do any special preparation for the role?

Out of the Furnace – Rodney Baze Jr (Casey Affleck) ©2012 Relativity Media, photo by Kerry Hayes

Casey: Not anything special. I read the script over and over just trying to absorb it, and I talked with Scott about where he’s coming from, because that’s really not a part of the movie.

We don’t delve into it too much, which is good.

And then just watching some documentaries and talking to some veterans, just trying to piece together as much as [I could about] what that experience might be like for somebody.

Then you just forget about all [the research] and you hope that all that stuff imbues whatever moment you’re in, and not try to bring it to every little scene, carrying around your history in that way.

It’s just background noise.

Out of the Furnace – Rodney Baze Jr (Casey Affleck) and Russell Baze (Christian Bale) ©2012 Relativity Media, photo by Kerry Hayes

I asked Christian and Casey if they knew each other before filming started and how they found such a organic relationship as brothers in the movie? Play the audio below to hear what they said.

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Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.