Exclusive: Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker and Scott Cooper Tell Us What's at the Heart of 'Out of the Furnace'

Four years after the release of Crazy Heart, director Scott Cooper brings another chilling story to the screen with Out of the Furnace. The film, which hits theaters this weekend, journeys into the heart of a fading America as it follows two brothers raised in Braddock, Pennsylvania.

Fresh off four brutal tours of duty in Iraq, Rodney Baze (Casey Affleck) returns to his hometown to reunite with his oldest brother, Russell (Christian Bale). When Russell lands in jail, Rodney tries to make ends meet and soon finds himself in dealings with the leader of a ruthless crime ring (Woody Harrelson). When Rodney goes missing shortly after Russell gets out of prison, Russell must enter a violent world to save his brother.

While promoting the film at the AFI film festival, director Scott Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Tom Bower, Woody Harrelson and Forest Whitaker spoke to us about what's at the heart of Out of the Furnace.

"Sometimes fate intervenes in your life and you're called upon to do things that you would otherwise not do," said Scott Cooper about the film's tagline, "Sometimes your battles choose you." "The film is about truth, the human condition, brotherhood, love, absolution and family. I hope people find it a moving experience."

Two years ago Cooper promised Christian Bale that the film wouldn’t be made without him. After scheduling conflicts cleared up they began shooting Out of the Furnace in April of 2012.

"I couldn’t have asked for a better cast," said Cooper. "You'll see Christian Bale in a way that you've never seen, very different from Batman and The Fighter."

Zoe Saldana plays Bale's love interest. "The moment you hear that you're going to be involved in a film with Christian Bale you know it's going to be good," said Saldana. "He's known for being a very particular artist that looks at material that's substantial.  When you look at that cast list, it's like, WHAT?"

The title of the film went through a couple of iterations.  The original script was called The Low Dweller, which Cooper later changed to Under a Black Sun and then Dust to Dust. It was Terrence Malick and Sam Shepard who later convinced Cooper to name the film Out of the Furnace.

Forest Whitaker, who plays Braddock's sheriff, says the film highlights the downfall of the American economy and "the shift from the Industrial Age to the current age. The film also brings awareness to the other faces of war, like post-traumatic stress, which Casey Affleck has to face in order to find a way to survive after returning from the war. It's really a statement of what's happening to our country and the change that's occurring as we move into this new technological era."

A sentiment actor Tom Bower also shares. "I hope people take the most important thing [out of this movie], which is there are going to be millions of soldiers, men and women, that are going to come back from Iraq and Afghanistan and are going to need employment and a place to live and ways to take care of their family, which the main character in this film is confronted with. It's a big problem and it's coming. It's coming upon us and we have to be prepared."

Woody Harrelson admits he was blown away by the film. "I saw it about four months ago and said,'Oh my God, he really has done an incredible thing.' A big part was about joining the project was working with Scott Cooper, I was knocked out by the script. It's a dark script but it ultimately made for a unique experience."

Planning on watching Out of the Furnace this weekend? Get your tickets here.

The folks over at Fandango Cine sat down with Casey Affleck in an exclusive Spanglish interview over Cuban coffee.

Also, our Chief Correspondent Dave Karger spoke exclusively with Christian Bale on this week's Weekend Ticket.

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