At the AFI Fest premiere of "Out of the Furnace" last weekend, director Scott Cooper pardoned the absence of Christian Bale by quipping, "He's parting the Red Sea as Moses in the Canary Islands, but he really wanted to be here." Indeed, Bale has been hard at work filming Ridley Scott's "Exodus" these last few weeks, and the actor told HitFix in a recent interview that audiences can expect a far cry from what Charlton Heston and Cecil B. DeMille delivered 60 years ago.

"It's an intriguing piece, because it's very few people that I've met that have actually read the Torah, the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses, all the way through," Bale said. "Most people read snippets. If you read it all the way through, it's harsh. It's really 'Old Testament.' And violence in the extreme. He was not a man of any half measures whatsoever."

Bale said he was relieved to finally be moving off of studio sound stages and onto location with the project because he always works so much better in a real environment. "The camera can pick up what it chooses to pick up, but it's much bigger than what's just on that little frame," he said. "I find it such an advantage to be on location. It changes everything because you cease to feel like you have to perform."

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The actor also prefers shorter shooting schedules than what he (inevitably) is facing on the Biblical epic, which was why, along with the benefit of location shooting in Braddock, Penn., "Furnace" was so appealing to him. But he keeps coming back to these big projects, whether it be the "Dark Knight" franchise, "Terminator Salvation" or, indeed, "Exodus," never quite sure himself what will be next because, he said, he has no strategy when choosing his next role and just jumps at what feels right. He's always looking for something fresh and exciting.

With that in mind, he promises the payoff on Scott's film will be quite out of the ordinary. "There's a lot of shocking stuff about it," he said.

Stay tuned in the next few weeks for more with Bale about "Out of the Furnace."

"Exodus" opens in theaters on Dec. 12, 2014.