He’s played comic book characters and vampires, but in I Saw The Light Tom Hiddleston takes on the role of a real life legend, country music star Hank Williams. For his portrayal of the iconic singer, who died in 1953 aged 29, Hiddleston not only learned how to be Hank, he learned how to sing like him too.

Tom HiddlestonTom Hiddleston as Hank Williams in I Saw The Light.

With the help of singer and songwriter Rodney Crowell, Hiddleston had the unenviable task of re-recording Williams’ music, to add extra authenticity to his portrayal of the country hero. For Hiddleston, it was a gruelling five week process filled with highs and lows, as he learned to channel Williams.

"We started shooting the film on October 18, 2014, and I went to Nashville on September 3 and I stayed with Rodney for five weeks,” Hiddleston said. “He was my tutor in the ways of the blues – my coach in every respect. He just guided me through everything in a way."

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Hiddleston had already done his own research for the role, but for the five weeks he spent with Crowell he “lived and breathed Hank Williams, and the tradition of folk music,” in order to capture his unique essence.

For the English actor, the country stylings of Williams weren't the music he was used to when growing up and he had to ‘loosen up’ his natural rhythm and learn how to just ‘feel out the songs instinctively’. Of course there was also the matter of imitating Williams’ distinctive drawl.

"It was pure dig your heels in: practice, practice, practice. Hank's tone is not an easy one to emulate,” Hiddleston explained. “And I had to refine my yodel and inflect my vowel sounds. Rodney was sweet about it, but he wasn't going to let anything past him.”

“He'd say, 'Tommy boy, I can hear your English choirboy comin' out now. You been singin' too many hymns at those English schools. You're right on top of the beat. You gotta hang back off it. Just glide behind it.' It was an education in the blues. Sometimes we'd just sing the blues all day."

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But in the end, the most important lesson Hiddleston learned was that you had to feel Williams’ music yourself and connect to the songs with your whole soul. "In order to sing that song, and for it to have the impact that Hank had, you have to connect to it with your whole soul.”

“You have to just get yourself behind it and mean it and express yourself through it,” Hiddleston added. “That was really the key to playing the part.”

Watch the trailer for I Saw The Light below: