The first official trailer for I Saw the Light, the biopic starring Tom Hiddleston as the iconic Hank Williams, dropped today (see below). After watching it, I remembered the following post that I started writing over a year ago but never published.
So, Tom Hiddleston is the choice to play country music icon Hank Williams in the film I Saw The Light which is slated to begin filming in Louisiana in mid October. I am definitely not alone in thinking that this is some interesting casting and, as such, it has already created some drama and skepticism.
In the interest of Full Disclosure, I will admit right now, before I go any further, that I am a Hiddleston fan. However, while I have enjoyed the majority of his work, I feel some trepidation when it comes to this role.
Hank Williams is such an American country music icon that the idea of a Brit being cast to play him has really ruffled some feathers – especially those of his grandson, Hank Williams III.
Tom’s saving grace is that he is a talented actor and an excellent mimic. If you’ve ever heard some of his impressions of other celebrities (his Owen Wilson and Chris Evans are pretty spot on), you may be aware of this. He has a talent with accents and I have no doubt he will figure out a Louisiana accent and make it as accurate as possible.
My main concern is his singing voice. It’s not horrible by any means – and is likely much better than my own, but then I’m not playing a music icon. It is highly possible that with practice and training he can mold his voice into what this role needs. Currently he’s not quite there. He’s giving it the old college try certainly, and this last weekend’s performance at the Wheatland Music Festival in Michigan was a VAST improvement over his impromptu version of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” during the Asian Thor: The Dark World press tour. I admit I haven’t even been able to watch THAT full video – it is BEYOND cringeworthy and one can’t help but feel a wee bit embarrassed for him.
Some of what I wrote a year ago still stands. I’m still not convinced that Hiddleston would have been my first choice in this role. However, based on what I’ve seen and heard, he’s done an amazing job of morphing himself in an attempt to stay true to the idea and history of Hank Williams.
As of now, I still have not seen the film. The soonest I will be able to see it in my Midwestern location is the last weekend in January, at which point I might as well just wait until its estimated opening in March. Prior to today’s trailer, I had seen interviews from the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), as well as one scene that was released of Tom singing “Hey Good Lookin'”. He doesn’t sound exactly like Williams, but then according to Marc Abraham who wrote, directed, and produced the film, the goal wasn’t for Hiddleston’s voice to specifically mimic Williams’ but to be an authentic representation.
Does he mimic Williams’ singing and speaking voice? No. Is his representation authentic? According to Hiddleston, yes.
While initial reviews from TIFF weren’t exactly kind to the film, stating that the screenplay and direction left a bit to be desired, the one consolation was the performance of the two leads – Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen, who plays Hank’s first wife, Audrey. Evidently these two are the saving grace of the film, and if there are award nominations for this film, they will go to one or both of these actors.
Based on what I’ve seen so far, it appears that I may have been too hasty in my judgement of Hiddleston’s casting as Hank Williams. Though I still have a few months to wait before I see the film with my own eyes, I look forward to seeing it and having Hiddleston prove me wrong. I will post as soon as I see the film, even if it consists of me “eating crow”.