Sam Shepard joins ‘Out of the Furnace’

Relativity pic stars Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana

“Safe House” thesp Sam Shepard has joined the cast of Relativity Media’s gritty drama “Out of the Furnace,” while Red Granite has come on to handle international sales after acquiring foreign rights.

Christian Bale, Casey Affleck and Zoe Saldana have all closed deal to star in the pic, which Scott Cooper (“Crazy Heart”) is writing and directing.

A drama about fate, circumstance and redemption, “Furnace” finds Bale and Affleck playing brothers who have always dreamed of escaping the economically depressed Rust Belt and finding better lives. When a cruel twist of fate lands Bale in prison, Affleck is lured into one of the most violent and ruthless crime rings in the Northeast. Once released, Bale must choose whether to risk his own freedom to seek justice for his brother.

Shepard will play the duo’s uncle, while Saldana is set to play Bale’s love interest.

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Appian Way’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Killoran are producing with Scott Free’s Ridley Scott, Tony Scott and Michael Costigan, as well as Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh. Brooklyn Weaver of Energy Entertainment will exec produce.

Red Granite International prexy Danny Dimbort and co-prexy Christian Mercuri will begin shopping the film to buyers in Cannes next month. Relativity will handle domestic distribution for the pic, which starts shooting later this month in Braddock, Penn.

“This is a meaty script with characters as strong as they are complex, and we needed powerhouse actors who complement the story,” said Relativity co-prexy Tucker Tooley. “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.”

Shepard is repped by ICM.