OUT OF THE FURNACE Stars and Director Speak

The blue collar drama Out of the Furnace surely has sights set on awards-season contention, boasting a star-studded cast and a writer-director (Crazy Heart’s Scott Cooper) who guided the great Jeff Bridges to Oscar glory. Revolving around a hardworking ex-con (Christian Bale) trying to rebuild his life in a hardscrabble Pennsylvania steel town, the film expands one man’s struggle to straighten up and fly right into the story of an entire community’s redemption.

We’ve seen the movie and it’s a sprawling morality play that uses the atmospheric setting of a dying Rust Belt hamlet to maximum effect. Our review is forthcoming – in the meantime, read what Cooper and Bale, as well as co-stars Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, and Zoe Salanda, had to say about Out of the Furnace at a recent press event:

Director Scott Cooper on the importance of the film’s setting:

“It was important to me not only to shine a light on small-town America, but also what we as Americans have undergone these past five turbulent years. That blue collar milieu was something that I really understood and resonated with me, and I felt it was very underrepresented in American cinema.”

Christian Bale on how location shooting can affect an actor’s process:

“It’s like the difference between performing for the rectangle of the camera versus a world being created and the camera finding things within that. It’s just a huge difference. Because what it takes away is performance – you don’t really feel like you’re performing, you’re just existing.”

Casey Affleck on integrating factual research for his character, an Iraq War veteran haunted by his overseas experience, with his performance:

“You just hope all that stuff imbues whatever moment you’re in and not try to bring it to every little scene. You’re not carrying around your history in that way, it’s just sort of background noise. You hope that whatever research you’ve done bubbles up to the surface at the right time, like when you’re playing a scene that’s an argument about a beer then suddenly you’re sharing an experience that you weren’t planning on sharing.”

Woody Harrelson and Cooper on developing Harlan DeGroat, the villain of the piece:

Harrelson: “I didn’t feel there was anything natural about playing Harlan DeGroat. Scott, what was it I said when we were finished?
Cooper: “When we wrapped, Woody walk over and said to me, ‘I have never wanted to shed a character so badly in my life.’ Truly, I wanted Woody’s character to represent the very worst of American and Christian’s character to represent the best of America.”

Zoe Saldana on the film’s ties to communal American values:

“You walk in with this fear, wanting to see something that you can imagine being so heavy, and what you learn and you take from it is the strength you’re able to absorb from these people. It’s very easy to leave when things go wrong. But to stick around and basically give life to a town because of everything it gave you, generation after generation, that to me is what defines a true American. It’s sticking together when things get really rough.”

Out of the Furnace opens in New York and Los Angeles on December 4, expanding wider on December 6.  Stay tuned for the Screen Invasion review!

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The Author

Eric Ambler

Eric Ambler

Eric Ambler is a film critic and correspondent for Screen Invasion, as well as the founder of Ambler Amblog ( His parents named him after a Welsh spy novelist they found in a reference book. Someday he will get around to watching all the VHS tapes he bought at Goodwill.