Matthew McConaughey and Bryce Dallas Howard on why they loved their characters in "Gold"

New movie “Gold” takes on the true story of the 1993 Bre-X mining scandal, when prospectors supposedly found an enormous gold deposit in Indonesia.

Stars Matthew McConaughey, who plays rags-to-riches businessman Kenny Wells, and Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays Kenny’s girlfriend Kay, talked to CBS News about what got them excited for their roles when they read the script.

McConaughey said he was attracted to Wells’ scrappiness. 

In the film, Wells is a bald and paunchy down-on-his-luck businessman who has a dream about finding gold. The prospector is determined to make good on his dream and dig for gold with his partner, geologist Michael Acosta, in Indonesia and comes up against a few big-time Wall Street investors along the way.

“This guy, Kenny Wells, is chasing down this dream that he literally had -- chasing down a literal dream that he had -- believing in it it all the way to the death. He would die for this dream. And that’s how he lives. He would cheat death to achieve this dream,” said McConaughey. “What a pure spirit, too -- a guy who has no trouble turning down $300 million to buy out his company but yet can barely speak and is sweating when he’s going to receive Prospector of the Year award in front of his friends in Reno, Nevada. That’s a pure soul.”

McConaughey added that he can relate to Wells in that he never allows himself to rest on his laurels: “On a daily basis, I know I’ve got work to do. I know I’ve got places where I can improve.”  

In contrast, Howard said what attracted her most to the role of Kay was her satisfaction with her life. In the film, Kay, who has stayed with Wells through all of his low points, proves to be far tougher than she appears.

“I loved that we weren’t seeing a woman who’s dissatisfied,” said Howard. “We’re seeing a woman who’s fulfilled in her life and it’s Kenny, really, who’s figuring things out.”  

Gold opens in theaters on Friday.

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    Andrea is an entertainment producer at CBSNews.com