Hank Williams III Criticizes Casting of Grandfather in Biopic

June 20, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  51 Comments


The grandson of Hank Williams, Hank Williams III, aka Hank3, is not happy with the casting of English actor Tom Hiddleston in the upcoming biopic about his grandfather. The new retrospective called I Saw The Light will be based off of the Colin Escott biography of Hank’s life, and directed and written by Marc Abraham, an American film producer known for such movies as Spy Game and most recently The Man With The Iron Fists. Production of the film is set to start in Louisiana in October.

In a story initially run by TMZ, the entertainment news organization said succinctly,

“Hank Williams III tells TMZ … producers cookin’ up a Hank biopic blew it when they cast British actor Tom Hiddleston to play the legendary country crooner. Hiddleston’s best known for his role as Loki in “The Avengers.” Hank3 says producers should have cast Matthew McConaughey as Hank because Matt represents the South both in movies and real life.  Hank3 singles out ‘The Dallas Buyers Club’ to prove Matt has the acting chops to get the job done well.”

READ: 10 Badass Hank3 Moments

Subsequently Hank3 reached out to TMZ to clarify his statements, but they refused to post anything further. So early Friday morning, Hank3 released a statement about why he feels the casting of Tom Hiddleston was the wrong move. You can find the statement verbatim below.

- – – – – – – – – – -

Since TMZ wont let me Post it. Here ya go for some of there comments. 1st off The real name on My Birth certificate is Shelton Hank Williams III, Since many on here don’t know many facts I figured I would just say a couple things. 2nd I never put down Tom as a actor I was asked a question on who I thought would do the role justice and here is how it goes. To do a Hank Williams movie the way it should be done you need certain aspects in the mix to make right. It goes way beyond having a American to play the role of Hiram Hank Williams Sr for it to be somewhat natural, It needs to be a American From The South who has eat lived and breathed these kind of roles before to make more respectable movie on Hank Sr.

The main Reason I said Matthew McConaughey would be a good person for this role is because of he has played many roles as a Southern man. And he is from the South. And that is something no amount of money or acting classes can put into a role. That goes back to starting with some good foundation for the role to be somewhat natural and to have a lot more of a real feel in the movie. The other reason I thought Matthew would be a good fit for the role is because he has a natural arrogance aka fire that is needed for this role. Hank Sr was very very sure of himself and basically very cocky. And Matthew always brings that fire to the table in every role he play’s. Tom’s feel is just a bit different in all the roles I have scene him act in.Yes Tom is a great actor but what he brings to the table is just different then what Matthew could deliver in my eyes.I know how Important Sr’s Legacy has been to a lot of entertainment historians in Europe but it just seems strange to cast someone who is so far away from the roots of what this film is supposed to be about.

As Far the Age factor a lot of folks are talking about Matthew is to old for this role.. Keep this in mind. Most folks that Look at Hank sr, Cant believe he was only 29. Meaning that he looked way way way older then he was. So that in its self shoots down the aspects of having clean crisp young actor to play this role. Hank Williams was a very old soul. Inside and out…And having a more a seasoned actor well in my eyes would only make it a better movie. I want someone to play Sr who is actually born as real Southern American that has some heritage in the blood and could possibly Identify with the role on a more personal note. I’m not part of the Hank Williams Estate so I have nothing to gain or loose, All that money is for Hank Jr and Jett Williams. It would be nice to see a well made movie on him since the last one was hacked apart by Audrey pretty much.

You know if this movie doesn’t do it right on down the road another one will. Cause that’s the gift Hank Williams will always have is being TimeLess!

Hank Williams Sr life was shortened by a death A doctor with a fake license.

Hank Williams was playing Rock N roll before Rock N Roll was and was doing Doom before Doom was even a genre with his Luke The drifter records.

Shelton Hank Williams III aka HANK3

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Previously Hank3 also posted:

As far as alot of the TMZ Comments go. A> Yes My WHole Name is Shelton Hank Williams III. B> Yes I said A American actor should play Hank Sr out of respects to the heritage and Family. C> WHy Is wanting a American to play the role being Racist? D. As far as people Sayin Matthew is to old to play Hank sr since he is 45…Dont froget Hank Sr looked way way way Older then 29….The Headline Should of said Hank3 wishes they Would of Used American Actor Matthew McConaughey to keep traditional roots alive in new Hank Sr Movie. Leave it to TMZ To Take a positive and turn it into a negative.

51 Comments to “Hank Williams III Criticizes Casting of Grandfather in Biopic”

  • Ole Hank III could use a proofreader and some remedial English. That being said, don’t disagree with him here.


    • Though I wish Hank3 maybe would have reached out to someone to edit the statement for him before he released it, in fairness, he has been open about suffering from ADD and dyslexia, and so I don’t blame him for the grammatical errors. The sentiment is what matters.


      • I posted the link and tagged Shelton, giving him the opening to clarify it because I knew TMZ had fucked it up. This statement is actually the second of two comments he wrote on my link, which he copied into statuses.. So It’s not really a prepared statement so much as a spur of the moment fb comment. He said what he had to say and said it well. Why nitpick over grammar?


    • Hank should just figure that people aren’t in business to lose money. Lots of really talented actors around the world, and accents are easy to learn. A famous face would distract from the story–better to get an unknown from far away and mold them to the part. Renee Zellwegger played Bridget Jones, all sorts of Brits play American roles on tv and film, I think Hank should let casting directors do their job and back away. If he were a good casting director, that’s what he’d be doing for a living.


    • Hey B. Jones,

      My name is Ben Jones, and I post here occasionally. Just wanted folks to know that you ain’t me, because I would never put down a man for his grammar or his literacy.
      In this case, I believe Hank lll has written a piece that states the position of our Southern culture in a way that most English professors could only dream of.
      (yeh, I know, a dangling participle!)

      For it is the truth, and it comes from the heart and from the soul, and speaks to the arrogance of Hollywood, the new celebrity culture, and the cluelessness of the entertainment industry.

      I played for years on a show called the Dukes of Hazzard, and sometimes I was the only Southerner on the set of a show about the South. James Best was from Kentucky,
      but we were it. I heard some of the phoniest accents imaginable.

      Hank III has made a compelling case against this casting, without insulting the Brit who has been incorrectly cast. This isn’t an English 101 exam, it is a defense of a culture under attack. Thanks, Mr. Williams, for your honesty, your courage, and your remarkable eloquence.

      Ben Jones
      Washington VA


  • While I believe Hank III deserves more than most to have his say in this matter, I must disagree with one aspect of his opinion.

    The idea that a person MUST be Southern to play a Southern is ridiculous.

    Tom Hanks didn’t need to be mentally handicapped to play Forrest Gump.

    Anthony Hopkins didn’t have to be a cannibal nor a serial killer to play Hannibal Lecter.

    Daniel Day-Lewis didn’t have to be American to play Lincoln.

    On the flip side, being British certainly didn’t seem to keep Hiddleson from playing a Comic book version of a Norse god.

    Now I do agree that after watching “Dallas Buyers Club” Matthew McConaughey would have been an outstanding pick for Hank Sr.

    But that’s not what happened. Hollywood notoriously lets us all down more often than not.

    I wanted Bryan Cranston to be Lex Luthor in the new Batman/Superman movie. All we can do is hope the actors take their jobs seriously.


    • Anthony Hopkins didn’t have to be, but it certainly helped.


      • Heh.

        Touché, Alex. Touché.


  • Good grief, this is verbatim? I thought the wording was copied and pasted or something to make it so garbled. Not doing any good for your message with this, Shelton.


    • It was a facebook post he probably typed on his phone. He’s on tour at the moment so he probably just thumb typed it quick.


    • For numerous reasons, including the fact that he probably typed this out after playing a 4 hour set on his smartphone and that he’s been open in the past about suffering from both ADD and dyslexia, I’m going to give Hank3 a pass for the grammatical errors. I could have cleaned his statement up, but I felt like that would be disingenuous in my reporting, ostensibly changing his words in a way he may or may not approve of.

      I will say this: Hank3 clearly felt like he got jobbed by TMZ on this issue, and he probably was. Why artists work with outlets like this and expect different results, I will never know. Media has devolved into such a soundbite oversensationalized feeding frenzy, it makes me embarrassed to be a part of the profession, and boils my blood on a daily basis, especially the way musicians are handled. Making it worse is artists are constantly giving their content to outlets known for sensationalizing things. Jack White last week to the stage at Bonnaroo and called Rolling Stone a “tabloid’. Yet he’ll probably sit down with them yet again. Meanwhile artists are doling out exclusive song, album, and video stream to outlets that then pass the content off to interns who put no love into what they’re doing, and don’t include any links to the artist’s properties to facilitate support of the music.

      I also think artists should be more careful about how they use social networks. If Hank3 had sent me this statement with the understanding it would be edited, I would have done so, even if he just was going to post it on Facebook. The fact that some people will discredit it because of grammatical errors is in my opinion unfair and unfortunate. But it is also understandable.


      • Agree completely. But I’m curious why Rolling Stone gets lumped into that bag of “should nots”. I’ve been checking the Country version almost daily, and they seem to allow the artists the freedom to say whatever they want… Without editing or cleaning up the language. I know you said at its launch that you’d reserve judgement until you see more of the product, but how about a one-month-in review?


        • I brought up Rolling Stone since that was a very recent storyline involving an artist getting interviewed, and then complaining about his words getting twisted to be more controversial than they actually were. And there has been numerous instances of this from Rolling Stone. It happened with Eric Church and his whole brushup with Blake Shelton and Miranda. Church blamed Rolling Stone, but guess what, he was there when they came calling to promote his new album. There was also the take down of General Stanley McChrystal. That’s Rolling Stone’s MO, not necessarily saying things that are not true, but taking small quotes and figuring out how to make them much bigger. Remember when Ethan Hawke wrote a fictional story about Toby Keith in Rolling Stone? (http://youtu.be/5jiM3C4MhfQ)

          In fairness, none of this has to to with Rolling Stone Country, and it is a completely different editorial staff. So far as I know, there haven’t been any artist beefs, and that is good. However I have personally taken a few elbows to the jaw from them, whether intentional or inadvertent. At the same time, they have posted some good stories. My jury is still out on them This is probably grounds for a deeper discussion in a different place.


          • Thank you for that. As I said down thread, I’m still learning.
            Thx for your patience.


          • Just for the record, when magazines like Rolling Stone make reference to “country music blogs that make fun of bro-country” or whatever, that’s basically just code for SCM and Farce the Music, right?


          • Not necessarily Applejack. Anti bro-country sentiment has gone mainstream in the last few months, where you now have LA Weekly running stories like “10 Biggest Doucebags in Country”—something I probably wouldn’t even write these days.

            I do think it has become fashionable in some circles to hate on sites like SCM and FTM, and I think there may be an effort out there to stigmatize us.

            In my opinion, if you are going to reference something a website said or did specifically, you owe it to your readers and the public to not let ambiguity allow mistaken identity and misinformation. You will never see me criticize something and not name names, or supply specific links when possible. This isn’t always direct conflict. In my opinion, this is a sign of respect. Subtextual content can lead to misunderstandings and misinformation, and it has in certain cases with some of Rolling Stone’s articles. Again, I don’t want to specifically criticize them because I think they’re still trying to find their editorial voice and their specific place in the world.


      • People who are familiar with Hank 3 will not criticize his writing. You are right that he has always been upfront about his academic weaknesses. So in light of that I am glad you did not edit his writing. To his die hard fans, that piece of writing is history.


  • I think casting a much bigger name as Hank Sr. could in many ways detract from the story and make it more about ‘Matthew McConaughey as Hank Williams’ and less about Hank. Using a less familiar actor to American audiences may shift more of the focus on the story.

    As an example I never for a second forgot that it was Joaquin Phoenix playing Johnny Cash. Doesn’t mean the performance wasn’t good but I just didn’t get lost in the story.


    • Interesting point about not getting lost in the story.

      I didn’t either, but I don’t know what the issue was.

      Jamie Foxx’s job in Ray was outstanding, and I was drawn in completely into that movie.

      I really thought “Walk the Line” was going to reach the same level of enjoyment for me. I just really don’t know why it never pulled me in like “Ray” did.


    • Good point.


    • I think it could well be argued that Tom Hiddleston to younger demographics is a bigger star right now than Matthew McConaughey. Without question Matthew is the more accomplished, and probably the bigger star overall, but I think one of the reasons Hiddleston was picked was because of his “hip” name recognition, though in the end it probably came down to who you know, and Hiddleston is tight with director Marc Abraham, and McConaughey isn’t. Was there an open casting call? Who was asked? Were there readings? I think these are all fair questions, but in the end they will all be water under the bridge comapred to the performance Hiddleston gives. He will be endlessly compared to both Joaquin Phoenix and Jamie Foxx who both won big awards for their portrayals of music greats, and apparently now McConaughey, who is the reigning Best Actor according to the Oscars.


  • I agree with Hank III Matthew would do a good job. I also think some one with some southern roots and a good amount of swagger is needed. We shall see, at the end of the day, I just hope it turns out good.


  • It’s very common for many British actors to play very American roles. Henry Cavill was Superman in the recent Man of Steel, Christian Bale was Batman in the recent Nolan Trilogy, Daniel Day Lewis as Abe Lincoln and so forth. So I mean, It’s possible he could pull of a Southern accent easier being British (Like what Ewan McGregor did in Big Fish), and let’s see what Tom Hiddleston can do (which I hope is better than his rather forgettable performance as Loki).


    • Christian Bale played an egotistical 80s New Yorker in American Psycho so well that I had no idea he was Welsh. It is called acting, and the point is to become someone else entirely.. which is why I disagree with III on this matter.


      • Correction: English but he lived in Wales. Whoops.


    • Technically Superman was Kryptonian.

      Though he was raised a Kansan.

      (sorry… my inner geek had to make this post.


  • When I saw the casting, I wasn’t exactly thrilled that it was a British guy known for playing Loki in the Marvel movies. That said, I wasn’t upset either. Tom is an amazing actor that I think can handle the role amazingly well. Hank3 has his right to his opinion. It’s his grandfathers legacy we’re talking about after all, but I think that’s why he might not be the best to take his judgement into who should/shouldn’t play the role. He’s taking it to personal and offended that his choice wasn’t the one who got picked. Tom could come out and just steal the show and be as believable as anyone as Hank Sr, but 3 wouldn’t be happy with it at all. Maybe Matthew McConaughey was approached and didn’t want to do it. Maybe the studio didn’t have the budget. Maybe the people involved in the movie had a wife that McConaughey felt up at a screening one time and it pissed them off?

    Like with most casting decisions people aren’t happy with when they’re announced, I say let’s reserve judgement until after we see the finished product.


    • There’s definitely more to casting than “Lets get this guy”.

      McConaughey could have a dozen other things on his plate at the moment. He’s definitely been a hot commodity for a while.

      Maybe he just didn’t want to do it. You certainly can’t force a man to do what he doesn’t want to do. (How’s that for Southern Stubborn?)

      As you said, someone involved with the project who has a lot of pull doesn’t like the man.

      There could be 100 different reasons why McConaughey didn’t get the role.

      But after reading Hank III’s comments, I doubt Hiddleson will ever be good enough for him. He’s definitely taking it a little too personally, and I don’t know if he’ll be able to put those personal feelings aside long enough to give Hiddleson a decent chance.

      If the movie turns out well, it would be a nice gesture from Hank III to say he was wrong. But, just like the movie, only time will tell.


      • To me the question I had with the casting when I first heard about it, and especially now since all this has come up, is did the director and whoever else is making the casting decisions do their due diligence to vet multiple actors to make sure they picked the best one? Director Marc Abraham and Tom Hiddleston are obviously very close from having worked on movies together. Was this casting decision made over finger sandwiches near the catering truck on a comic book movie, or did Abraham make a call to Matthew’s people, and maybe to other actors to screen test? Though it drives me a little crazy that some people assume just because Hank3 looks so much like his grandfather that he should be cast in the role himself, did they at least call him and entertain the idea? Hank3 has done some acting. Did Marc Abraham even know Hank3 existed? I can tell you he does now. ;)


        • But they haven’t worked together, ever. I got curious after you wrote this twice and after searching through their IMDB profiles, they have never had a project.

          Google search only gave me one hit, an interview where Hiddleston said Marc Abraham saw him in a theatre play and thought he’d be appropriate. So I’d think it was an audition after all and Abraham was cross-checking the actor.


          • Okay, I may have gotten a little overzealous there. I think you’re right, they haven’t worked together directly. But when I was putting together the initial article about the biopic, I remember reading in a story how they met, or where they met, or something to that effect, and the point I was trying to make is it felt like Hiddleston may have been preordained for the role instead of a true search being rendered for the best Hank Williams. I’m not saying that’s what happened, I’m just saying if it did, that could be grounds for a beef with the casting. I have been trying to find the story, but when I google it I’m getting about a million different copies of the same story from entertainment sites. If/when I find it, I’ll post it here.


          • I can’t reply to you directly, Trigger, so I’ll reply to my own article :)

            If you’re right that the actor got this job without audition, then I agree with you compeltely (and I think it happens a lot in Holywood so it wouldn’t be that strange). However, I really want to see this biopic done well and if the guy was picked fair & squere, then the casting shouldn’t be attacked in advance (only if he does a bad job later). For all we know so far, there might have been a casting call.

            Also, I should point out that I don’t think it’s necessarely a bad sign if director (producer, casting director, whoever) and actor know each other from before, that could also be a sign of trust in another person’s abilites and that’s a good thing. But if they cast people because they’re their friends, boyfriends, children etc., without them working for the role, then it’s a nasty business.


  • Was the last movie Hank3 was talking about “Your Cheating’ Heart”? Because the last movie about Hank Sr. was “The Last Ride”, and Audrey didn’t have anything to do with that


  • I actually think Tom Hiddleston will do really well in the role, but I love the idea of McConaughey. I think it’s common for us southerners to want to be portrayed by actual southerners, the real deal. We really hate posers.


  • Criticizing someones grammar is superficial and stupid. Insulting a person doesn’t prove any point either. The point Hank 3 was making was that there will be less credibility using a British actor, instead of an actor from the south who has similar roots and perspective. If a white woman was chosen to be Ray Charles in a movie, would anyone buy into that? Of course not.


  • Being a newb here, I’m not sure if this post is acceptable or not. Trig, please delete or yell at me if I should’ve waited for an appropriate thread to post this…

    OT: WUSN 99.5 is the only Country station in Chicago. Among the commercials, vapid DJs, and recycling of the Top 20 crap it literally unlistenable. But…
    They have an HD “shadow” station at the same frequency called The Wolf. It plays the crap too, but at least expands the playlist to the Top 100 or more, and includes “new” releases. For example, this is where I first heard Don Williams, George Strait, Brandi Clark, Maggie Rose, Kellie Pickler, Charlie Worsham’s Mississippi In July, etc.
    So I put up with the crap to hear the good. But today I heard either the programmers sense of humor, or him/her laughing at me.
    Donkey came on as soon as I got in the car. I stayed with it (fighting road rage) and was then rewarded with Kacey Musgraves singing I Miss You.
    Anyway, I guess sometimes you take the bad with the good.


  • While I understand were he is coming form, not being from the south isn’t a deal breaker for me. As for Matthew McConaughey, I think that would have been a terrible choice. Keep in mind, I’m a big fan of McConaughey, but he just looks too old for the role. Had he been casted in the part 10 years ago, I’d be fine with it, but it seems to me like Hank3 was just name dropping a popular actor from the south without really thinking about how the casting would work.


  • This is dumb.Look at the two actors on “Nashville” that are English.You could never tell it in a million years.A good actor is a good actor.

    And It’s probably a good omen that McConaughey ISN’T playing the part since 90% of his movies are box office flops.


    • I’m not sure if you’re familiar with McConaughey’s output for the last few years, but Killer Joe, Bernie, Mud, Dallas Buyers Club, and True Detective were all well received critically even if they didn’t pull in big box office numbers. That’s to be expected though, since they were mostly independent films (excluding True Detective of course, which is an HBO series).


  • Hank III seems to misunderstand — or is totally clueless to — some of the basic aspects of acting. Judging from the lousy spelling and grammar in his missive, though, I’m not surprised.


  • For me, from looks and sound, Hank 3 himself would be THE FIRST person to come to mind.

    As someone from the south, it wouldn’t be as hard for me to overlook Matthew as Hank as it will be to overlook the fake accent from Tom.
    But maybe it will work.


    • “Band of Brothers” is probably one of the best stories ever put on film, ever. Damian Lewis was great as Lt. Richard Winters. In fact, try to imagine the mini-series with someone else in that leading role and it just isn’t the same. Lewis is British. And he wasn’t the only Brit playing an American. Hank III should calm down and let actors and directors do their thing. They don’t tell him how to sing songs.


  • Go Hank III


  • I wish Lucas Black had gotten the role of Hank. He’s from Alabama. Matthew McConaughey is too modely looking. I guess women think he’s one of the handsomest men in the world, a far cry from hank. I’m not too crazy about the choice of this British guy either, because the accent will probably be underwhelming.


    • Just to clarify: I don’t necessarily think Tom will do a bad accent; I just think it will be underwhelming because Hank’s accent was thicker than most, and I’ve never heard anybody do a fake accent that thick without it sounding fake. So, to sum it up: I imagine Tom will do a decent accent, but it will be mild, and won’t fully represent the archaic, Southern countriness of Hank Williams.


    • 5 or 10 years ago I would’ve agreed with you about McCounaghey being too good looking, but now that he’s older and has done roles where he lost a lot of weight and looked very gaunt, I could see him doing very well in the role. With a bit of makeup to make him look a bit younger, like in True Detective, I think he’d have the look down.


  • I understand Hank III’s sentiment, he wants to absolutely make sure the portrayal is genuine and I don’t blame him one bit for voicing concern where his namesake is involved. As huge fans of his work I think we’re all allowed to show some concern for nailing the accent, but actors spend considerable time on this talent. That’s what makes them good at their jobs.

    From everything I’ve read about everyone involved it seems they’re serious about every aspect. Rodney Crowell is working with Hiddleston on his singing and playing to better portray Senior. Hiddleston is also a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, which isn’t exactly the local theater company.


  • The Only reason I picked Matthew is cause I relate to him and he could relate to the role. No cast has thrown anything his way. He was just my personal pic for the role and my pic alone.So his office has no clue. I would ask Kris Kristofferson his thoughts or Harry Dean Stanton who they think should play Hank.


  • ” “The film is about the man behind the myth, the power of his music, the sheer voltage of his talent and charisma, and his formidable demons… Hank’s life has a tragic arc, but in simple truth, he was a genius: a star that burned twice as bright and lived half as long. It’s a huge role for me and a huge responsibility. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”- Tom Hiddleston


  • If I could throw in another two cents worth. I have worked as a professional actor and entertainer since 1962. I’ve done 80 theatrical productions, and over 200 film and television productions. I have played a variety of stage roles, including Brecht, Ibsen, O’Neill, Tennessee Williams and the old Bard of Avon.

    Attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art is probably a good thing to have on
    one’s resume, but that and $3.00 will get you a cup of coffee these days. Schooling is no guarantee of talent or of one’s being “right” for a role.

    Think now: If you were making a film about the potato famine in Ireland, would you want a really fine actor from Galway, or a fine actor from Montgomery, Alabame? You see, the mastery and practice of accent muddles the process of reflecting the inner truth of the character, you dig? The actor is too conscious of getting the accent perfect, and then he has to genuinely reflect the manners and the culture he is playing in. I have played a number of different accents, but in film (which is more like”being” than “acting”) I am most often cast as a Southerner, because that comes naturally.

    McConaghey is at the top of his game right now. And he has the haunted face that Hank Sr. had earned in his pain and his self-destructiveness. Those who say he is
    too old for the part didn’t see Hank Williams at the end. He looked fifty.

    There are a lot of other variables. Frankly, I don’t know if Mark Abraham has ever been further South than New Jersey, unless he was scouting locations. He might not “get the culture”, either. And it is also possible that McConaghey is booked solid, or turned it down, or would rather chill out for awhile.

    And maybe Hiddleston has a genius for submerging himself into a character and a culture so that he “channels” Hank Williams. One thing is for sure: he can’t be any worse than George Hamilton in “Your Cheating Heart”.

    Ben Jones


  • I’m not sure if Justin Townes Earle can act, but I bet he could pull off the stage persona and singing parts. He could certainly look physically similar, as well.


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