Texas Musician Captures the Spirit of Hank Williams in Film

Grammy-winning artist Rodney Crowell is executive music producer for “I Saw the Light,” a biopic about Hank Williams starring Tom Hiddleston.

By Leah ScarpelliJuly 8, 2016 11:52 am| , ,

I Saw The Light” is a new biopic about the life of Hank Williams. Texas musician Rodney Crowell is executive music producer – a role that included training the actor who would play the ill-fated country star in the film.

For five weeks, English actor Tom Hiddleston, perhaps best known in the U.S. for his roles in “The Avengers” and “Thor,” lived in the upstairs suite of Rodney Crowell’s home near Nashville.

Texas Standard host David Brown spoke to Crowell about the film, and how he helped a classically-trained British actor transform into an outlaw musician.

“One day I had to go upstairs – (Hiddleston) was staying in a bedroom upstairs – I went up to knock on the door, and the door opened there stood Hank Williams,” Crowell says. “It wasn’t Tom Hiddleston, it was a character. … He crawled inside that skin.”

On approaching Hiddleston to star in the film:

“I went to Toronto to meet up with Tom Hiddleston. He was working on another film, and had a day off so we played music all day and played guitars and sang. And after we got relaxed enough, I said, ‘Hey man, can you yodel?'”

On helping the actor get into character:

“I identify Hank as a snake, because Hank was dangerous and sexy and loose and trouble. He was an outlaw. He was a rock and roll star. Tom and I discussed it a lot. I said, ‘You know, you’re a good natured young man, we gotta find your inner snake. And record it.'”

On his lifelong fascination with Williams:

“(When I was four years old) I had about eight Hank Williams 78’s, and I listened to them constantly. By the time I was six years old, I had a subconscious mindset, but really, how do you crack this code? Because theres something in here that I can’t leave it alone. This is in the world and I can’t ignore it.”

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.