Blind Man Singing Song

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The light before a good sunset in Tennessee changes from fiery pink to a flood of gold until the sky eventually turns a dark enough purple to be lit by a falling star — just as Hank Williams wrote it.

In September of 2014, the summer heat had eased up enough to enjoy the outdoors at dusk and those same colors began to fill the sky as Tom Hiddleston was finishing a run along the hillsides south of Nashville. In under 40 days, filming for the Hank Williams biopic I Saw the Light would begin in Shreveport, Louisiana, and the British-born actor had just arrived in Nashville to start the process of learning to sing, talk and look like the country music legend.

Becoming Hank Williams seems like a dubious fantasy as the tall, athletic Hiddleston sits down to talk after a run. His life is a far cry from Williams, who was plagued by poor health. Also, at 33, he’s already four years older than the singer was at the time of his death. Still, he looks the perfect movie star age. . . which, of course, is no age at all.

Hiddleston, who won the Laurence Oliver Award for his mastery of Shakespeare, has been criticized for taking on the role of the Hillbilly Shakespeare — a moniker given to Williams in praise of his lyricism. A peer of Williams once described the singer’s tendency for self-sabotage as him being unable to take one step forward without shooting himself in the foot, and as I find myself blankly staring at Hiddleston’s running shoes, I conclude that he has a lot of work to do to become a mess.

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