Should an American actor have been cast to play Hank Williams?


Tom Hiddleston. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

You probably know Tom Hiddleston as the swaggering, throaty-voiced supervillain Loki from the “Thor” and “Avenger” movies. He revels in Loki’s delicious evilness, but he’ll be slowing down soon to play Hank Williams in the upcoming biopic “I Saw the Light.” There is a resemblance, not that it matters that much. Part of the magic of show business is that it can take Daniel Radcliffe and make you believe he’s a younger version of Jon Hamm. Not everyone agrees with the choice of Hiddleston as Williams. “As high as I am on Tom Hiddleston, the idea of him playing all-American country music icon Hank Williams gives me pause,” said critic Anne Thompson at Thompson on Hollywood. “Somehow this role should go to an American actor.” Thompson cited Hiddleston’s credentials, labeling him a “gifted” actor and singer. “Hank Williams will be an exciting challenge for him,” Thompson wrote. “It just feels….wrong.” Williams was the country hitmaker responsible for “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Hey Good Lookin'” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” He became addicted to alcohol and prescription painkillers after suffering a hunting accident and died at 29 from heart failure.

** FILE ** This is an undated photo of Country and Western singer and guitarist Hank Williams. He was born in Georgiana, Al., in 1923 as Hiram King Williams, and he died of a heart attack in 1953. (AP Photo) Country singer and guitarist Hank Williams. (AP Photo)

Hiddleston’s casting continues a trend of British actors playing quintessentially American parts. Last year seemingly spawned 1,000 they’re-taking-American-roles articles, given the high number of Brits who have perfected their American accents to great success. Think Hugh Laurie as Gregory House and Ed Westwick as Chuck Bass on “Gossip Girl.” Both sported compelling baritone growls integral to their characters. Anna Friel’s English accent in “Pushing Daisies” was completely undetectable, and Martin Freeman has more than stood up to the challenge of playing Lester Nygaard in the much-celebrated (with good reason — it gets better and better every week) Fargo. He’s not British, but Joaquin Phoenix seemed like an unlikely choice as Johnny Cash, and he rocked it, winning an Oscar for his performance in “Walk the Line.” Hiddleston has developed a reputation for doing impressions, particularly of his “Avengers” co-star Chris Evans. He’s gotten quite good. Filming is said to begin in October in Louisiana. h/t Deadline Hollywood

Soraya Nadia McDonald covers arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post with a focus on race and gender issues.
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