The tale of country legend Hank Williams is a cruel and heart wrenching little one. Thrust into stardom at age 14, Hank took Montgomery, Alabama by storm. But like all good teen idols, Hank took up drinking quickly, married his manager (sounds scandalous but they were actually the same age), released a bevy of hits, joined up with the Grand Ole Opry, sank deeper and deeper into the throes of alcoholism, and then added crippling prescription painkiller addiction on top of that when he started suffering from back problems. Williams shined bright with talent, known for songs like “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Hey Good Lookin’” and “I Saw The Light,” But any further success was cut short when Williams died at the age of 29 from drug and alcohol fueled heart failure.
While hearing I Saw The Light probably now best conjures up images of Chapman beating the shit out of Pennsatucky in the yard, it’s also the name of the new Hank Williams biopic; and according to Deadline, the man to strap on a guitar and pop a few pills in his honor will be none other than Tom Hiddleston. While it’s easy to shoehorn Hiddleston and imagine him playing Loki, God of Mischief and Boyfriend of Our Hearts forever, he’s clearly a versatile and gifted actor. With turns in projects as different as Only Lovers Left Alive, War Horse, The Hollow Crown and Midnight in Paris, he’s proven that he’s not only an exceptional villain, but someone who can easily morph into whatever you need him to become.
That’s why, while the casting of Hiddleston to play an All-American 1940s country superstar seems like an unconventional choice, but let’s face it — he’s going to be brilliant, so let’s not bother getting into it. It’s going to be a real treat seeing him nail down the accent, firstly. While he worked the American accent in Midnight in Paris playing F. Scott Fitzgerald, this role will require ample Southern drawl. As for singing, Hiddleston will be doing all his own, which makes you wonder what kind of Hank Williams impersonation he laid down in the audition. The film, written and directed by Marc Abraham, has access to Williams’ entire catalog; unlike that Morrissey biopic that’s floating around, this will definitely be storytelling of the song and dance variety. It’s almost bizarre that Williams’ story hasn’t been told on screen already, seeing as it has every component of a perfect rock star story: sex, drama, drugs, booze and a tragic ending. But how does he look in a cowboy hat?