Confirming some long-rumored casting picks, and even throwing in a surprise or two, Relativity Media has just sent around a press release detailing confirmed casting for Scott Cooper‘s Out of the Furnace. After the critical success of his directorial debut (which was nominated for three Oscars, ultimately winning two, including Jeff Bridges’s long-deserved first Academy Award), Cooper has been attached to a number of projects, but Out of the Furnace will be his first film since 2009.

The release confirms that Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, and Sam Shepard are set to star in the gritty drama. Bale has been on board as lead Russell Baze since August, but this is the official confirmation of his role. Affleck and Saldana have been attached to the film since March as Bale’s younger brother and love interest, respectively, but back then, Robert Duvall was mentioned to take Shepard’s role as the Baze brothers’ uncle, Red. Still up in the air? The villain role – once rumored to be played by Viggo Mortensen or Billy Bob Thornton. At this point, they could cast anyone in this role, as the current cast is a fantastic collection of talents.

We’ve long known that the film is about Bale’s character, Russell, who attempts to make an honest life for himself after being released from prison, only to get sucked back into the criminal underworld when his brother Rodney (Affleck) gets mixed up with some bad people. Today’s press release expands on that plotline, telling us that the film “is a drama about fate, circumstance, and redemption. Russell and his younger brother live in the economically depressed Rust Belt, and have always dreamed of escaping and finding better lives. But when a cruel twist of fate lands Russell in prison, his brother is lured into one of the most violent and ruthless crime rings in the Northeast – a mistake that will almost cost him everything.  Once released, Russell must choose between his own freedom, or risk it all to seek justice for his brother.”

Cooper has been attached to direct the film since last April. Originally titled The Low Dweller, that script was picked up by Relativity in 2008 from newbie scribe Brad Ingelsby (who recently signed a deal with Indian Paintbrush for his newest script, The Signal). Weirdly enough, today’s press release doesn’t mention Ingelsby at all, though he is still credited on the film’s IMDb page.

The film will reportedly be shopped to prospective buyers at Cannes next month, so can we expect to hear lots more about it soon.

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