When the news came out that Tom Hiddleston would be portraying country music legend Hank Williams in a biopic titled I Saw the Light, I said I was fine with the choice from an acting standpoint but that I worried about the singing. Hiddles will be doing his own vocals, and we have several pieces of evidence that he is not a great singer. But now we’re getting a new entry into the “Tom Hiddleston sings” library, and it’s the most relevant one yet—Hiddles showed up at the Wheatland Music Festival in Michigan over the weekend and sang a Hank Williams song. Have a listen:
It’s not bad. Not great, but not bad. At least he’s on key which is half the battle with non-professional singers. The biggest issue is that you can still hear his British accent, and he’s a raspy singer, not nasally. Hank Williams had a distinct nasal twang when he sang—here’s Williams singing the same song for comparison. Hiddleston is not going to sound just like Williams, the same way that Joaquin Phoenix didn’t sound exactly like Johnny Cash and Kristen Stewart didn’t sound like Joan Jett, but he still has a ways to go to reach even “near approximation”.
Of course, the video from the festival is garbage because of the kid loudly saying, “That’s Loki!” in the background, and for the movie, which begins filming in Louisiana next month, Hiddleston won’t be singing live. He’ll record his vocals in the comfort of a studio with professional engineers whose sole job is to make him sound good. His live singing isn’t flawless, but you can tell he’s been working on sounding like Williams, and he’s still got another month to keep at it. He’s a good enough mimic that, aided by professional recording equipment, he ought to be able to sell us on Hank in the movie. But he will need to cover his accent at the least. Because if Hiddles sh*ts the bed on Hank Williams…I won’t be able to like him for a while.