Summer is in full swing, which means an all-out onslaught of high-energy fantasy films.
Perhaps no film embodies summer escapism more than "Reign of Fire," a post-apocalyptic dragon-slaying tale full of explosions, muscles and courageous bravado courtesy of Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale. Set roughly 20 years from now, "Reign of Fire" depicts a world ravaged by a centuries-old dragon and her offspring, accidentally awakened by construction in London.
For McConaughey, who earned his reputation taking on heavy-duty subject matter in 1996's "A Time to Kill" and 1997's "Amistad," making "Reign of Fire" was a chance to blow off some steam.
"It was a lot of fun," Matthew said of playing dragon-slayer Denton Van Zan. "I mean, there was no rules to it, slaying dragons in the future go be the man of action, the badass, the get physical, run through something instead of around it, eat it instead of smell it [type of character]."
On the other hand, getting in shape to meet the physical demands of playing Van Zan wasn't all fun and games.
"I worked out on the ranch a couple of months," he said, referring to the property he owns in Texas. "[I] did a lot of running, did a lot of building, wrestled with the cows a little bit. Anything I could pick up or carry somewhere, I would do that instead of put in the back of a truck. ... Boxing, running around barefoot. And when it was 110 degrees in the sun, I started running miles and miles barefoot to get the soles of my feet toughened up."
McConaughey's co-star, who portrayed a deranged yuppie obsessed with his physique in the Bret Easton Ellis novel-turned-movie "American Psycho," had other ideas about what the role would require.
"I actually dieted," Bale said. "Because I can't imagine [my character] as being pretty [big], because I thought they are going through a food shortage, these people are probably going to be scrawny. I arrived in Ireland, though, and I saw Matthew [as] Van Zan. And I just looked at him and just went, 'Holy sh--!'
"You know a whole dynamic of this movie is the two of us clashing and us both being leaders and sort of control freaks. And I have to really look like I can be psychologically and physically a challenge to his character. And he was in such incredible shape. I kind of desperately worked out for a couple of weeks, to try and look like I could, you know, face off against him."
Audiences will be able to see Bale face off against McConaughey and a whole mess of fire-breathing dragons when "Reign of Fire" hits theaters July 12.