Hank Williams and his Drifting Cowboys band come to life in the first official footage released from the upcoming biopic, I Saw the Light. British actor Tom Hiddleston steps into the shoes of the Alabama native in a brief scene from the film that depicts the singer and his band members in the studio recording what would be his first hit, “Move It on Over,” at Nashville’s Castle Studio in 1947. There’s also a brief glimpse of Williams watching from a window as his then-wife, Audrey, played by Elizabeth Olsen, admonishes a handyman working on their house.
One year ago this week, Hiddleston surprised fans of the Avengers films, in which he plays Thor’s archenemy, Loki, when he hit the stage at Michigan’s Wheatland Music Festival with the same song, as well as “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Accompanying him on guitar was the film’s musical director, Rodney Crowell.
Written and directed by Marc Abraham, I Saw the Light chronicles Williams’ rise to stardom and the effects of years of crippling pain and substance abuse. The singer died of heart failure on New Year’s Day in 1953. He was just 29 years old. The film is based on the 1994 biography by Williams scholar (and fellow Brit) Colin Escott, George Merritt and William MacEwen. Also among the cast are Bradley Whitford as music publisher and songwriter Fred Rose, Davis Krumholz as New York journalist James Dolan and Cherry Jones as Williams’ mother, Lillie Skipper.
I Saw the Light will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this weekend, and bows in movie theaters nationwide on Black Friday, November 27th.