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Casting The Film
To cast the film's four main roles – the hotshot militant, Van Zan; the tough, resilient Quinn; the strong, beautiful Alex; and the resolute, sarcastic Creedy – the filmmakers looked for actors who could reinforce the vision of lending as much reality to their roles as possible. In each case, an actor was cast that was not, perhaps, the first that one would think would suit the role, but in the end, played the part pitch-perfect.

Matthew McConaughey, a veteran of megablockbusters including "A Time to Kill" and "U-571" and such independent, character-driven films as "Dazed and Confused" and "Lone Star," plays the hotshot American who finds himself at Quinn's castle, trying to recruit men in what may be humanity's last effort to kill the dragons.

"Everybody has a picture in their head of Matthew McConaughey," says executive producer Jonathan Glickman. "We wanted to twist that a little bit. We definitely wanted an American for the role – and Matthew's about as American as you can get – but he's also playing a different type of role than he's ever played before." In fact, Van Zan's head is shaved, he is covered with tattoos, and his body is rippled with muscle.

"Matthew turns in a stellar performance in this film," says producer Roger Birnbaum. "He's already shown how well he can carry an action film, and he's really going to surprise people when they see ‘Reign of Fire.'"

"He's every inch an action hero," adds producer Gary Barber. "He's an all-American guy who brings a real movie star quality to the role."

"The idea of kicking some dragon ass really appealed to Matthew," says co-producer Dean Zanuck, "and we thought that it was a perfect opportunity for Matthew to demonstrate his chops in an intense actioner… which he certainly did."

"I don't like to call Van Zan a dragonslayer – it sounds too much like a wizards-and-warlocks movie," says Bowman, "but, I think if you were to ask this guywhat he does, he'd say, ‘I kill dragons.' He's very matter-of-fact in that way."

"We always knew that in order to take on the dragons, Van Zan was going to have to be a beast himself," notes McConaughey. "But the question was, how do we make him a strategist? How do we make him a great leader of men?

"I did study some personalities from history – Patton, for example," McConaughey continues. "It gave me an idea about the ‘never dig in, always plan offense' attitude. Van Zan is a man who always and only does what's necessary.

"Some people might describe Van Zan as a mercenary," says Christian Bale, who plays Quinn, "but the crucial difference is that Van Zan absolutely believes in what he's doing. He doesn't see himself as a gun-for-hire; he sees himself as being on a mission from God."

Bale, an intense, introspective actor who has received rave reviews for his performances in such diverse films as "Empire of the Sun" (his first starring role, at age 13), "Velvet Goldmine," and "American Psycho," plays Quinn, the reluctant leader of the castle. As a child, Quinn's encounter with the

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