Ever since word came down that Tom Hiddleston was chosen to play country music legend Hank Williams in the upcoming biopic I Saw the Light, people have had their doubts about the casting.
Hey, it's alright; no need to sugarcoat it. Even die hard Hiddlstoners like some people (those weirdos, amirite? ::hides desktop collection of Hiddleston gifs::) wonder if he can pull off playing the iconic singer. The decision to cast Hiddleston was met with some raised eyebrows and, in the case of some of Williams' family members, outright annoyance that a classically trained British actor landed the role. (DID THESE PEOPLE NOT SEE THOR 2? THE MAN HAS RANGE, OK?)
But it seems Hiddleston has one true believer who isn't just another blind Tumblr devotee. Country singer Rodney Crowell worked with the actor to prepare for the film, and he recently took to Facebook to talk about the actor's dedication to the role.
According to Crowell, Hiddleston started kicking ass and taking names as soon as he arrived on location. In case you're wondering how much preparation he had before jumping on stage at the Wheatland Music Festival, not only was that the first time he performed a Williams song in public, but Hiddleston said it was his first time performing with a band. EVER. Holy shit.
[He] arrived in Nashville on the fourth day of the month and the very next day climbed on a tour bus bound for Michigan and the Wheatland Music Festival, his traveling companions Claudia, myself, and a four-piece band consisting of Jerry Roe, Byron House, Pat Buchannan and Steve Fishell. Just minutes before taking part in an afternoon workshop with Sarah Jarosz, whose permission I had sought first, I asked Tom if he'd like to join us onstage and sing "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," a Hank Williams song I'd heard him practicing on the bus. I was surprised when he said yes and skillfully performed the tune before what must have been 1500 people. Later that night, with my band on the main stage, and with very little urging from me, he rendered a joyful version of "Move It On Over." Afterward, brimming with delight, he admitted, rather boyishly, that he'd never in his life performed with a band and had loved it.
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Crowell described Hiddleston's work process on the set of the film. I'll admit, I would be excited to see Hiddleston cast as a shoe horn in a Thom McAn commercial, so I don't really have that far to go to be impressed. But damn, this all sounds pretty intense.
On a typical day in September, I watched him sit for a wardrobe fitting, read through four hours worth of key scenes with the director and leading lady, spend another two hours with a dialect coach, and then, in order to lose the weight needed to look Hank Williams gaunt on screen, run seven wicked miles over hilly Tennessee terrain. With those chores done, he'd then commit to six more hours of singing, over and over again, a very hard to master song like "Lovesick Blues." And then, when he finally unlocked the mystery of yodeling the blues, hillbilly style, and was treated to a playback of his performance responded by saying "I can do it better, let me go again." Then came a late dinner, wolfed down before giving in to a few hours sleep. After nearly a month spent collaborating with this gifted artist, I'm as respectful of the man's work ethic as I'm mystified by his transformational skills. Without a doubt, the filmmakers chose the right actor for the job.
I would give anything to see Tom Hiddleston "wolf down" a plate of food. Let that be an open request to anyone reading this. I will pay you anything from my vast fortune. (My vast fortune consists mostly of empty pickle jars and Papa John's Bucks. Please don't ask what I was saving the pickle jars for; it's personal.)
Image via Rodney Crowell Facebook.