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Should Brit Star Tom Hiddleston Take on Country Icon Hank Williams?

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by Anne Thompson
June 12, 2014 8:34 PM
14 Comments
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Tom Hiddleston
Hank Williams

As high as I am on Tom Hiddleston, the idea of him playing all-American country music icon Hank Williams gives me pause. Somehow this role should go to an American actor. This casting feels like a foreign sales decision. Hiddleston, who is bankable thanks to playing Loki in two Thor films and "The Avengers," is set to play Williams in writer-director Marc Abraham's "I Saw the Light," based on Colin Escott’s biography.  Via Sony ATV, the biopic has secured rights to the Williams music catalogue including such hits as “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Hey Good Lookin’” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart.”

Not that Hiddleston isn't a gifted actor and singer. After supporting roles in Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" and Steven Spielberg's "War Horse," Hiddleston starred opposite Rachel Weisz in Terence Davies' drama "Deep Blue Sea," in the TV series "The Hollow Crown," Jim Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive," has shot "Crimson Peak" for Guillermo del Toro, and is set to film Ben Wheatley's "High Rise" for producer Jeremy Thomas and Recorded Picture Company. Hank Williams will be an exciting challenge for him. It just feels....wrong. 

Producer-turned-director Abraham recently directed the underwhelming drama "Flash of Genius," starring Greg Kinnear. Brett Ratner and James Packer's Ratpac Entertainment will finance "I Saw the Light," and Aaron L. Gilbert will produce for Bron Studios alongside Ratner, G. Marq Roswell and Abraham. The Bron Studios / RatPac Entertainment production, in association with Creative Wealth Media Finance, is scheduled to begin production in Louisiana in October 2014. 

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More: Tom Hiddleston, Musical, Biopics

14 Comments

  • NATALIE | June 15, 2014 8:36 AMReply

    Some of you are underestimating Hiddlestons ability to play this part... I think he could really nail it!

    1. He is a gifted mimic, he has already done the southern accent well (Listen to him reading Tennessee Williams and you'd hardly recognise his voice!). He would also be able to copy Hank's mannerisms well.

    2. He completely immerses himself in every role, he watches every video he can, reads every book he can and listens to every clip he can. He himself said he has a fear of "not doing enough" and he is a self proclaimed perfectionist.

    3. He is a fantastic actor... and I mean FANTASTIC. He is really able to bring it emotionally, I saw him perform Coriolanus on stage earlier this year and (especially in the final sequence) he blew me away. Some of his work as Loki is astounding, at times his acting almost seemed too good for the marvel movies! He was also fantastic in War Horse, The Deep Blue Sea and The Hollow Crown movies.

    4. He can sing well at times... im not going to say he is a phenomenal singer or anything, because he isn't. I do believe however that with some coaching, he could pull it off. He can also play the guitar.

    5. He looks an awful lot like Hank Williams, this is a huge plus.

    I honestly think Tom was cast not to "capture the foreign market" but truly because he was the best candidate for the job! I think its unfair to write him off just because he is not American....

  • John W. Comerford | June 14, 2014 3:05 PMReply

    Hear you loud and clear but Hank was of English American ancestry and I suspect three months in Montgomery, Alsbama strumming and crooning could help set the stage for success. Some consistent boozing and moderate pill popin' couldn't hurt to get into the spirit of things. In short, if he immerses himself in the country and drinks it in there might be something cookin' by the time the cameras role.

  • L Blaidd | June 13, 2014 10:28 PMReply

    Banking decision? Seriously? Like Marvel fan-kids will line up for a biopic of Hank? How about considering he might have just been the best actor for the job? The American assistant to noted director Guillermo del Toronto said Mr. Hiddleston's Hank Williams is "uncanny". He is already recognized as a talented chameleon who immerses himself in every role. And has been pointed out, it isn't as if American actors haven't played roles that caused similar reactions. I think they cast judged on best they could get, rather than where the candidate was born.

  • Joseph Angier | June 13, 2014 6:12 PMReply

    I agree, and it's not like Hiddleston is a big box office commodity. (Unlike the decision to cast Meryl Streep over Hannah Schygulla in "Sophie's Choice."0

  • Kerry | June 13, 2014 2:23 PMReply

    The problem is that the overseas market will be totally dependent upon Hiddleston's appeal, since I doubt very much that the subject matter will attract much interest. If the casting upsets people in the US there is a very good chance that they will end up losing more than they gain. I am English and I won't be watching it - I am so bored with Hiddleston, Cumberbatch etc.

  • evelyn garver | June 13, 2014 2:07 PMReply

    You know what feels wrong? Letting Robert Pattinson act at all. Yet , he gets tremendous support on sites such as this. Hiddleston is Olivier compared to Pattinson.

  • Mi | June 13, 2014 4:43 PM

    Maybe you should see his interviews and then see Cosmopolis and The Rover and after that you will find out how a good actor he is.

  • Brian | June 13, 2014 11:11 AMReply

    In the only previous Hollywood biopic of Williams, YOUR CHEATIN' HEART (1964), he was played by George Hamilton, for cryin' out loud, so this will at least be a step up. Still, I would prefer an American southerner in the role, especially one who can sing. And I'd prefer a good director at the helm, not the producer of such ill-advised remakes as DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004), THE THING (2011) and ROBOCOP (2014). This is a subject that requires the same care and thought that went into RAY and WALK THE LINE, to name two highly-regarded musical biopics of the 21st century. I'd love to see a good movie about Williams, but I'm not confident in this project.

  • Rob S. | June 13, 2014 8:45 AMReply

    If Kevin Spacey can play Winston Churchill, Tom Hiddleston can play Hank Williams.

  • MS | June 13, 2014 2:00 AMReply

    Americans play Brits & Brits play Americans all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. Iconic figures, or not. (Meryl Streep as Thatcher, & Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup jump easily to mind as recent examples...) All that matters is whether the actor is capable of doing the role justice. Hiddleston is a gifted actor. And he kinda looks the part, which helps. And he can sing. Hopefully, he can put a country twang in it, & will act the hell out of the part. Why are we still having this conversation?? It's petty & silly.

  • Isa | June 12, 2014 11:55 PMReply

    Honestly, I don't know who Hank Williams is and I'm American. Is a movie about an American icon country singer in the 50s that interesting to the foreign markets? I'm just not sure if they are that focus on gearing this to the foreign markets.

  • Peggy | June 12, 2014 10:13 PMReply

    That's a good question. American, male actors seem to be in the minority everywhere these days. If they are making the decision just to sell foreign tickets, that's a problem. If it's because he would be stunning in the role, then go with him. But I have a feeling that if he would be just ok, American country fans would be pissed and the movie would fail in the US. But hollywood seems to be ignoring US fans more and more.

  • Jk | June 12, 2014 10:09 PMReply

    Meryl Streep winning an Oscar for playing one of the most influential British political figures in the modern history feels pretty wrong too.

  • Derek | June 12, 2014 9:13 PMReply

    He's a good actor, but can he sing country

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