Sony’s much-anticipated biopic of the late Hank Williams has set a release date, and it’s perfectly timed for Oscar consideration.
I Saw the Light features British actor Tom Hiddleston as the country legend, who was one of the earliest and most important pioneers in country music before alcohol and drug abuse brought about his early demise at just 29. The film is set for release on Nov. 27, and according to Radio Times, that slots it just four months before the Academy Awards — a timeframe that will have the film fresh in the minds of the Academy voters when voting rolls around.
Hiddleston is best known for his roles in Thor and The Avengers. He will emulate Williams’ Southern drawl in the film, as well as lending his singing voice to some of the icon’s most legendary hits, which included “Move It on Over,” “I Saw the Light,” “Lost Highway,” “Jambalaya (on the Bayou)” and “Lovesick Blues.”
The film is based on Colin Escott’s biography of Hank Williams, and also features Elizabeth Olsen, Bradley Whitford, David Krumholtz and Cherry Jones. Marc Abraham directed the film from his own screenplay adaptation.
According to Variety, RatPac Entertainment’s Brett Ratner and Bron Studios’ Aaron L. Gilbert produced I Saw the Light with G. Marq Roswell and Abraham. James Packer of RatPac Entertainment and Jason Cloth of Creative Wealth Media Finance served as executive producers, with Dante Spinotti as the cinematographer.
The film hasn’t been without its bumps. After Hiddleston was cast, Hank Williams III wrote a lengthy Facebook post criticizing the choice, pointing to Hiddleston’s lack of authentic American Southern roots.
“To do a Hank Williams movie the way it should be done you need certain aspects in the mix to make right,” he argued. “The main Reason I said Matthew McConaughey would be a good person for this role is because of he 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.”
Williams added, “The other reason I thought Matthew would be a good fit for the role is because he has a natural arrogance aka fire that is needed for this role. Hank Sr. was very very sure of himself and basically very cocky. And Matthew always brings that fire to the table in every role he play’s. Tom’s feel is just a bit different in all the roles I have seen him act in … it just seems strange to cast someone who is so far away from the roots of what this film is supposed to be about.”
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