How can a British actor, best known for his role in The Avengers, be fit to play the legendary father of contemporary country music, Hank Williams? It’s a question that’s been tossed around since the biopic went into development in 2009 with London-born Tom Hiddleston as the lead, and will finally be answered when I Saw the Light hits theaters in March. But a new trailer, released today, gives a hint or two at the controversial film — and it looks like it’s all about love, loss and the reality of never getting out of this world alive.
Hiddleston sang all his own songs for I Saw the Light, the story of Williams’ short but immeasurably impactful 29 years, snippets of which are previewed in the trailer. In the 30 seconds or so heard of the track, Hiddleston grasps the Alabama-fed, nasal yodel of Williams pretty well — besides, Englishmen seem fairly adept at southern accents (just look at the cast of The Walking Dead for proof).
Directed by Marc Abraham and featuring Elizabeth Olsen as Williams’ wife Audrey (mother to Hank Jr.), I Saw the Light made its Nashville red-carpet premiere back in October.
“Anyone who doesn’t know Hank, I hope the first thing they do is to buy some of his records, because I think the music’s incredible,” Hiddleston told Rolling Stone Country about his hopes for the film. “I hope that they’re inspired to learn more about him and his everlasting impact on American music.”
It was Rodney Crowell, executive music producer for I Saw the Light, who first gave Hiddleston his tutorship on all things blues and early country — and helped him, along with a vocal coach, capture the idiosyncratic corners of Williams’ sound. Exploring the tragedy mired in his short life came a little easier for Hiddleston, who’s previously acted in a stage production of Shakespeare’s Othello.
“Everybody has a little darkness in them,” Hiddleston, as Williams, says in the trailer. “I’m talking about things like anger, sorrow, shame. I show it to ’em, and they hear it, and they don’t have to take it home. Country music, it’s sincere.”