When movie actor Tom Hiddleston was first cast in the role to play Hank Williams in the upcoming biopic I Saw The Light, there was concern of whether a British actor could pull off the part of the Southern born and bred Hillbilly Shakespeare. Hank’s grandson, Hank Williams III, or Hank3, spoke out about the matter, saying that a Southern man should be cast in the role. Though Hank3 gave respect to Hiddleston who was taught at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he was concerned he couldn’t evoke the pain Hank Williams felt as a Southerner. This concern has also been expressed by other Hank Williams and country music fans.
Now we have received our first taste of Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams, and some are applauding, and some have started the furor over the casting anew. Though Hiddleston seemed to do a fine job singing, some Hank Williams fans are not feeling the similarities in the style.
Hiddleston made a surprise appearance at the Wheatland Music Festival in Michigan on Saturday (9-7) and performed a rendition of the Hank Williams classic “Move It On Over.” On Sunday, Hiddleston returned to Wheatland with mentor Rodney Crowell—who has been personally working with Hiddleston—to sing a version of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”
The production for I Saw The Light has already secured the rights to Hank’s songs from publishing company Sony ATV, and have said that along with Hank’s original recordings, Hiddleston will be performing certain songs in the movie live.
Far from some of the dated and shoestring budget productions centered around the life of country music’s first superstar, I Saw The Light is set to be a full budget feature film in the same vein of the Johnny Cash biopic I Walk The Line. The movie is based off of the biography from Colin Escott, and is written and directed by Marc Abraham. Production is set to begin in October in Louisiana. The ambition and expanse of the film is one of the reasons many Hank Williams fans are showing so much interest in the casting of the iconic country music figure.
Tom Hiddleston has said about the role,
“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,” Hiddleston says. “He worked hard, played hard, lived hard there were women, there was whiskey but when he sang about being in the doghouse in ‘Move It On Over’, or about his heartbreak in ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’, it came from an honest place. 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.”
Though there is still a month before production begins, this video below is an early sign of what people might expect of Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams.
Elisabeth Waldon (@elisabethwaldon) September 7, 2014