UPDATED: Since publication the Variety story sourced has been updated to reflect breaking news that Mortensen is out as far as this film goes, and that Casey Affleck is being thought of as the front runner to play the role of Bale’s brother. Trading Mortensen for Affleck doesn’t really change the sentiment of this article, as that’s still a great cast of actors. Let’s just hope that Affleck’s name doesn’t get nixed, or this editing process is going to get real complicated.

Since we first heard about the conception of Scott Cooper’s follow-up to Crazy Heart, Out of the Furnace, nearly a year ago, the project has moved forward and casting has begun. So far it’s been confirmed that Christian Bale will play the lead role, that of an ex-convict who is sucked back into the criminal world when his brother is murdered and he consequently vows revenge. But there’s also some intriguing maybes floating around out there as well. Variety has news that a trio of exciting actors are negotiating for or interested in taking supporting roles in this crime drama.

Firstly, Avatar and Colombiana star Zoe Saldana is in early negotiations to play the role of the Bale character’s ex-wife. She’s a small town waitress married to the local Sheriff. Secondly, Robert Duvall is “expected” to come on board to play Bale’s uncle. And lastly, Viggo Mortensen is said to be interested in playing the part of the villain, who I would assume is the guy who murdered the little brother.

With the skill at directing actors that Cooper showed with Crazy Heart and the staggering level of talent this prospective cast brings to the table, Out of the Furnace has suddenly gone from a promising script that, once upon a time, appeared on the Black List, to a developing feature that’s likely going to blow us all away in its execution. Hopefully everybody signs on the dotted line soon; especially Saldana. After the career-threatening badness that was Colombiana, she could really use a role like this.

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