Scott Cooper, the actor-turned-director of "Crazy Heart," first met Robert Duvall on the set of the Civil War drama "Gods and Generals" in 2003. And they quickly became close. "He's probably not only one of my best friends," says Cooper, "but an artistic inspiration. He's supported me in ways I could never have hoped. I was married on his farm in Virginia."

Duvall encouraged Cooper to write and make movies, and Duvall produced his 2009 directorial debut starring Jeff Bridges.

On Wednesday, Duvall was back in Cooper's corner, hosting a Peggy Siegal lunch at the Explorers Club in New York for his second film, "Out of the Furnace." Duvall didn't have any official ties to the drama about two brothers (Christian Bale and Casey Affleck) who find themselves in a bleak situation. He just read an early draft of the script and was a fan. "I don't know if I mentored him," Duvall said. "You help anybody who you know has talent."

And on the subject of talent, Casey Affleck is stunning early audiences for his role as an ex-war vet who takes to street fighting. It's another breakout turn for the actor, who received an Oscar nomination for 2007's "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford."

When he first got the script, Affleck was flattered. "I thought, 'Really, me?" said Affleck, who trained for two months with an Olympic boxer to get in shape. "It's written for someone who is very tough. I've never played someone with that kind of physicality. It's not exactly what everyone sends me."

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