When I spoke with Tom Hiddleston and Marc Abraham on April 1, 2016, I was less interested in how Hiddleston pared even more weight from his already slender frame to better approximate Hank Williams skeletal build, or the five weeks he spent with a country music artist Rodney Crowell in order to absorb the atmosphere of both the craft and the business of same, rather I wanted to talk about the subtleties that these two worked into a story of a legend who is larger than life. It makes I SAW THE LIGHT as much an emotional biography as a historical one, and allows Hiddleston to deliver one of the finest performances that I have ever seen in any medium.
Hence, we started with the scene where Williams finally achieves his dream of performing at the Grand Ole Opry.Hiddleston doesn’t just sing the song “Lovesick Blues,” he signals every feeling Williams is feeling as the audience cheers. As they explained, this is as much about Williams’ inner journey to the Opry as it is the performance that made him a star. They went on to talk about how Hiddleston’s own moments of nervousness and doubt fueled the film, what Abraham was determined NOT to do, and the decision to have Hiddleston do the singing, not lip-synch to William’s recordings. We finished up with Hiddleston and Abraham talking about the idea of, in Williams’ words, showing an audience the darkness so that they can face it without having to take it home with them, and why that’s part of the necessity of art to a full life.
I SAW THE LIGHT is the story of music legend Hank Williams’ complicated personal life and indelible artistic genius. Hiddleston plays Williams in film that starts with singer/songwriter on the cusp of fame and fortune, and follows him through triumph, tragedy, and profound personal heartbreak. The film co-stars Elizabeth Olsen as Williams’ ambitious and passionate first-wife, Audrey, Cherry Jones as his devoted and formidable mother, as well as Maddie Hasson, Wren Schmidt, Bradley Whitford, Josh Pais, and David Krumholtz as the reporter who asks all the wrong questions. Abraham directed from his own script based on the book, “Hank Williams: The Biography” by Colin Escott with George Merritt and William MacEwen. His previous work includes FLASH OF GENIUS, which was his feature film directing debut, as well as producing SLITHER, CHILDREN OF MEN, and THE LAST EXORCISM. HIddleston’s previous work includes extensive stage work in London including a vigorous CORIOLANUS, in films he has essayed another American icon, F. Scott Fitzgerald in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, portrayed the enigmatically monikered Adam in ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE, terrorized Mia Wasikowska in the deliciously gothic CRIMSON PEAK, and frolicked with felt in MUPPETS MOST WANTED. He also generously participated in the small, intimate, character-driven studies, THOR and its sequel, THOR: THE DARK WORLD as Loki, the incarnation of mischief.