Country legend Hank Williams is one of the most influential figures in music history. So much of our modern music can be traced back to him, and a biopic that is both a tribute to his work while still being honest about his tragic life will be a difficult task. Thankfully, Marc Abraham‘s I Saw the Light, which is set to begin filming in October, has brought on the talented Tom Hiddleston to play Williams. Hiddleston tells the Daily Mail that Abraham’s screenplay “pulls no punches,” and will explore Williams “shattering, self-abusive relationship with alcohol and later prescription drugs.”
Hit the jump for more on the film and Hiddleston’s preparation for the role.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Hiddleston laid out the timeline of the movie. He says it will “chart the singer’s life from his turbulent first marriage to Audrey Mae Sheppard in 1944, through his early radio career to his auspicious debut, in 1949, at the home of country music, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville,” and end with Williams’ tragic death in 1953. The musician died of a heart attack on New Year’s Day.
“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,” says Hiddleston. “It’s a huge role for me and a huge responsibility. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”
Hiddleston says he’s already started singing and practicing every day with the help of Grammy-award winning country musician Rodney Crowell. The actor continued:
“It was spine-tingling just to spend a day playing some of Hank’s greatest hits like Hey Good Lookin’ and Long Gone Lonesome Blues with such a gifted musician. He’s already expanded my vocal range and given me a few pointers about adapting my own tone to sound like Hank. Rodney has furnished me with his beautiful J45 Gibson to practice with. And he’ll be on hand throughout the shoot.”
Multiple times during the article, Hiddleston notes the emotional core of Williams’ story and trying to translate it to the screen:
- “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,”
- “[His] poetry, his lyrics, ache with raw vulnerability and emotion. And he sang them with all his heart.”
- “They didn’t call him ‘The Hillbilly Shakespeare’ for nothing. How Hank sang and how Hank played – that’s the work I have to do.”
It’s encouraging that Hiddleston recognizes the monumental task ahead of him, and I’m eager to see how it will turn out.