It’s enough that Sam Shepard doesn’t spend his later days shaming whatever legacy may have been built through decades of performing (you know who I allude to), but the man’s also got a career that includes one of the best films of all time (Days of Heaven) and a song co-writing credit with Bob Dylan. He isn’t so easy to one-up, basically.

Really, that’s my over-long way of saying he’ll make a great addition to Out of the Furnace, Scott Cooper‘s gestating drama that’s already nailed down Christian Bale, Zoe Saldana, and Casey Affleck. Brad Ingelsby wrote the film (Cooper is credited, for whatever reason), which follows “Russell Baze (Bale), recently from prison, who intends to marry his girlfriend, Lena Warren (Saldana), but instead is drawn into a quest for revenge when his brother, Rodney Baze Jr. (Affleck), is murdered after getting involved in the gambling racket.”

Shepard‘s been cast as Red, the uncle to Bale and Affleck — the latter whom he co-starred with in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. (The previously-rumored Forest Whitaker and Billy Bob Thornton may not have boarded, though talks could still be ongoing. Or not.) So it’s a nice, surprise bit of casting; I’ll even go out on a limb and say Shepard does some good work with the material he’s given.

Read the full press release below:

Casting Heats Up On Relativity Media’s Currently Titled Out Of The Furnace

Red Granite Partners on International as Production Starts in Braddock, Pennsylvania

(Beverly Hills, Calif.) April 5, 2012 – Relativity Media has closed deals with Oscar®-winner Christian Bale (The Fighter), Oscar®-nominated Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford), Zoe Saldana (Avatar) and Oscar®-nominated Sam Shepard (Safe House) to star as the lead roles in the upcoming gripping and gritty drama currently titled Out of the Furnace, written and directed by the critically-acclaimed Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart), it was announced today by Relativity’s Co-President, Tucker Tooley. Bale will star as older brother Russell Baze in the film alongside Affleck who will play the role of younger brother Rodney Baze Jr. Saldana has also been cast as Bale’s love interest Lena Warren and Shepard will play Red, Russell and Rodney Baze’s uncle. Production is set to begin in Braddock, Pennsylvania later this month.

Relativity Media will release the film theatrically in the U.S. Red Granite, the Los Angeles based film production, finance and international sales company has acquired foreign rights outside of the U.S. and will handle international sales. Red Granite International President Danny Dimbort and Co-President Christian Mercuri will begin shopping the film to buyers in Cannes next month.

In making the announcement, Tooley said, “This is a meaty script with characters as strong as they are complex, and we needed powerhouse actors who complement the story. Christian, Casey, Zoe and Sam each approach everything they do with heart and conviction. We can’t wait to see what each of them brings to this film,” says Tooley.

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.

Producing are Appian Way’s Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar) and Jennifer Killoran (The Ides of March) alongside Scott Free’s Ridley Scott (The Grey), Tony Scott (Man on Fire) and Michael Costigan (American Gangster) as well as Relativity’s CEO Ryan Kavanaugh (The Fighter).

Bale and Affleck were both represented by WME in the deals. Saldana and Shepard were both represented by ICM in the deals.

Are you happy to see this come together in such a fashion?

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