Country music legend Hank Williams is revived in the new film I Saw The Light, based on the book Hank Williams: The Biography. Tom Hiddleston stars as Williams, which may come as a surprise to those who only know the actor as Loki from Thor. Yet unusual casting choice aside, it seems that the media has been more interested in the opinions of the singer's relatives, namely what Hank Williams' family thinks of I Saw The Light. Since the late singer is largely associated with American culture (and particularly that of the South), it's understandable that the people closest to him might be caught off guard by the decision for him to be portrayed by a British actor.
As it turns out, Williams' relatives have differing opinions on the topic, as is so often the case when it comes to a famous figure being portrayed on-screen. The most widely publicized opinion about I Saw The Light has been that of Hank Williams III (also known as the musician Hank3), who is Williams' grandson. Hank3 has expressed his frustration and disappointment with the movie for casting a British actor in the role of his grandfather, telling Fox411 in Sept. 2014, "The way it should be done you need certain aspects in the mix to make right... [The actor] needs to be [an] American from the South who has eat [sic] lived and breathed these kinds of roles before."
Hank3 proposed that Matthew McConaughey would have been a better choice for the role, because "he [McConaughey] has played many roles as a Southern man. And he is from the South. And that is something no amount of money or acting classes can put into a role." Hank3 also weighed in on the movie's direction, writing in a Facebook post that I Saw The Light should have been "more Southern" like the film Gran Torino, and asking viewers to consider how the movie would have been different if it had instead been directed by Clint Eastwood. He continued on to say that maybe someday the role of his grandfather would have some "justice and real foundation in it."
Yet not all of Williams' family members are against the movie. Holly Williams, who is the half-sister of Hank3, has expressed her support for the film, despite saying that she was initially perplexed about the casting of Hiddleston as her grandfather. She told Rolling Stone last September that her opinion about the movie changed after she saw Hiddleston's performance, saying, "Tom really put his whole heart and soul into it. He worked so hard to embody everything about Hank, all of the nuances and who Hank really was." Williams added that overall, she's "personally very happy with it. The film's producer, Marc Abraham, is a friend and we talked with him throughout the entire process."
It's regrettable that some of the iconic singer's relatives feel that I Saw The Light doesn't sufficiently pay him tribute, but it's good to know that his entire family doesn't seem to share those beliefs and are actually in support of the film. Biopics are a tricky undertaking, and with such a legendary figure to portray, Abraham and Hiddleston definitely had their work cut out for them. Yet hopefully, the final product will please the majority of Williams' family, friends, and fans.
Images: Sony Pictures Classics