Hank Williams
Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images; Larry Busacca

Need proof that Tom Hiddleston has what it takes to take on Hank Williams? Look no further.

The British actor, who is set to portray the country legend in the upcoming I Saw the Light biopic,surprised crowds when he took the stage at the Wheatland Music Festival in Michigan this weekend.

In addition to reportedly performing Williams’ first big hit, “Move It on Over,” in fan-shot video, Hiddleston sings “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” with country star Rodney Crowell on guitar.

Hiddleston is spending time with Crowell to prep for his role as the successful but tortured Williams before I Saw the Light begins filming in Louisiana next month. Marc Abraham (Children of Men, Dawn of the Dead) will helm as director, screenwriter and producer. (Brett Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment will also produce.) Abraham tapped Crowell as music director for the film.

“It was spine-tingling just to spend a day playing some of Hank’s greatest hits … with such a gifted musician,” Hiddleston told The Daily Mail of working with Crowell. “He’s already expanded my vocal range and given me a few pointers about adapting my own tone to sound like Hank.”

I Saw the Light, which will be released in 2015, is based on country-music chronicler Colin Escott’s biography of the singer-songwriter. It will follow Williams’ now-legendary musical career and tragic personal life, including his battles with drugs, alcohol, and a spinal disorder. Williams died at age 29 of apparent heart failure on New Year’s Day in 1953.