To play the troubled country icon Hank Williams in the recent biopic I Saw the Light, Tom Hiddleston spent weeks working with Grammy winner Rodney Crowell to hone his guitar and singing skills. As a result, Hiddleston sang and performed all of Williams’ music in the film himself, and even though the movie has long since wrapped, Hiddleston still knows how to tap into Williams’ signature sound.
Hiddleston recently sat down with The Guardian in a London guitar shop for an impromptu jam session — and to talk about why Williams’ music has touched so many people over the years.
“It’s just so simple in a way that I find eternally moving. Not when I sing it, but when I listen to him sing it,” Hiddleston says, laughing. “He was a master.”
Director Marc Abraham’s film traces Williams’ rapid rise to fame — and his ongoing struggles with spina bifida, substance abuse, and marital troubles (Elizabeth Olsen plays Williams’ wife, Audrey). Williams died of heart failure when he was only 29.
Hiddleston says that Williams’ honest lyrics and his openness about his personal struggles are part of what catapulted him to superstardom.
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“The life he was living was real,” he says. “He sang what he knew in the only way that he knew, and people loved it because it was true. That’s what I think we are drawn to in all art, authenticity.”
Watch Hiddleston talk about Williams’ legacy — and play a few songs — in the video below.