'Out of the Furnace' Throws Morgantown Actor into the Spotlight

Dec 19, 2013

The new movie Out of The Furnace is making waves in theaters this holiday season for its bleak revenge-laden storyline, but most importantly, for its performances. The movie stars six actors who have either won or been nominated for Academy Awards. Christian Bale, known more recently as Batman, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Willem Defoe, Forest Whitaker, and Sam Shepard. But there’s another male actor in the film that you probably haven’t heard about, at least until now: Morgantown native Bobby Wolfe.

I just like to entertain, I don’t care if I’m in front of the camera, if I’m on stage, or whatever. If I can make someone laugh, or just have some fun,” he said.

Wolfe left Morgantown in 1988 to go to Nashville Tennessee. He says he wanted to be the next Hank Williams, but that didn’t quite work out. Instead, he started acting in community theatre, and performed in more than 400 performances of a Christmas show. He was also doing commercials and had a role in a movie called Letters from a Wayward Son, with Harry Connick Junior. But the movie wasn’t released, and Wolfe went to Hollywood.

Wolfe eventually scored a big break in 2007 with a role in two episode of the sitcom My Name is Earl, but the writer's strike kept it from becoming a recurring one.

He decided to move back home to Morgantown and started working with a local community theater company, which took him to new heights. Wolfe won the award for Best Actor at the Southeastern Theater Conference, a few years ago, for his performance in the play I Am My Own Wife. Then as soon as that show ended, he landed a part in Out of the Furnace.

"It was different than what I had seen my first time on television," said Wolfe.

"When I was watching My Name is Earl, I was really nervous before they came on. But when I was sitting up there at the premiere, I was just sitting back and saying, ‘Yeah this was right. This was right; this is where I was supposed to be have been!'"

The film is out now in theaters and was shot in the Pittsburgh area but also in the northern panhandle. The house where Woody Harrelson’s character lives is actually just a few miles outside of Weirton. Wolfe says the house had a lot of ambiance that made it perfect for the movie.

"They didn’t have to dress it. This was an old house on some guy’s farm property, it was like nine miles east of Weirton. It had newspapers on the floor, it had old furniture, the wall paper was coming off the wall. It looked like a house where someone would set up a meth lab or whatever," said Wolfe.

"They had a newspaper, from 1963, they had old books, a couple of them were from the 1860s, it was just an abandoned house. But it was a great house. It was out on a perfect hillside out of the way. Scott said they were just driving out along the road one day, looking for places and they just drove up on it."