Tag Archives: Tom Hiddleston

OT: Hiddles as My Homeboy Hank. Tom plays ‘Hillbilly Shakespeare’

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While my fangurling heart is fully dedicated to only one charismatic Brit actor–RA, of course–I did note with interest the casting of Tom Hiddleston as Hiram King “Hank” Williams, Sr. in the upcoming film, “I Saw the Light” (the title of one of Hank’s hit songs). Today they released a still of Tom in character for the biopic.

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There’s a definite resemblance there, both men being tall, lanky fellows with enviable cheekbones and Puckish smiles.  But more importantly, Hiddleston seems to have captured that slightly haunted and world-weary look Hank had.

 

Hiddleston in character, a lone figure with his guitar. Courtesy of Bing.com

Hiddleston in character, a lone figure with his guitar. Courtesy of Bing.com

Hank was a naturally gifted musician who battled physical pain (believed to be caused by some form of spina bifida that was not discovered until his autopsy) much of his life–pain that led to his addiction to pills and alcohol. He was a country music superstar by 25 and dead by 29.

In his brief career he charted 35 times in the top ten, with 11 of Hank’s recordings hitting number one. You can’t help but wonder what he might have accomplished if he could have kept the demons of pain and addiction in check . . .

 

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Now, I am not a huge country music fan, per se, but I am a fan of Hank’s music since way back and I feel a certain connection to him. We were both born in Butler County, Alabama, September babies who arrived in this world some 37 years apart. I know folks and their descendants who remember him and his family. I’ve heard stories passed down of Hank’s childhood days in various towns and communities in the county. Hank’s daddy, a WW I veteran, had been shell-shocked. His poor health made it difficult to find steady work, so the family frequently moved in search of new opportunities, eventually moving to Alabama’s capital, Montgomery, the place where he is buried.

Every June, the town of Georgiana, where Hank and his family lived for several years, celebrates with a two-day Hank Williams Festival. I’ve met people there from as far away as Germany, South America, Japan and Nottingham, England. Documentarians from around the world have come to this town of 2,000 to film the event.

 

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Hank’s boyhood home in Georgiana also serves as a museum with many photographs, sheet music, furnishings and other items on display.

When he was just starting out with his own band, young Hank used to play at various juke joints and dance halls across the county. My mama and daddy remembered dancing to his live performances way back yonder, when “Hank was just another ol’ southern boy.”

I like to imagine a pretty young dark-haired woman, her grey-blue eyes sparkling and skirt and petticoat swirling as they swing danced to tune like “Move It On Over.”

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Hank meeting a young fan, Doug Sahm, at a club in Austin, Texas on Dec. 19, 1952. He would die at age 29 of a heart attack just under two weeks later.

 

When a film was made of his life back in the early ’60s (“Your Cheatin’ Heart”), my parents went to see it at the Ritz and they also bought the soundtrack album. I listened to it many times over the years.  Hank Williams, Jr. actually performed the songs on the soundtrack (and did an admirable job of channeling his daddy) with George Hamilton lip-syncing the performances.

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There was something simple and straightforward about Hank, Sr.’s music that I like, something raw and ever so emotive in his voice. From the high-spirited “Hey, Good Looking” to the haunting “Kawliga” and the wistful “I’m So Lonesome” he had a way of touching people’s hearts and souls with his music and mirroring their own feelings of delight and despair, happiness and heartache.  Much as really good actors do through their performances.

 

Tom practicing a few chords for the role. Courtesy of Geektyrant.com

Tom practicing a few chords for the role. Courtesy of Geektyrant.com

And so what if Hank woke up from an alcoholic stupor to be dazzled by the lights of an airport, leading him to pen “I Saw the Light”? It’s still an inspiring, jubilant song, and I actually got to sing it one year on the same stage of the Ga-Ana Theater where Hank and his Drifting Cowboys had performed in Georgiana decades before.

 

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Hank has been called the “Hillbilly Shakespeare.” So perhaps it is only fitting that a Shakespearean actor should also portray him on film.

 

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Tom on the set of “I Saw the Light.” Courtesy of Pinterest.com

Can’t wait to hear Tom’s south Alabama accent.

Lyrics to a few of my favorite Hank songs~~

 

I’m So Lonesome (I Could Cry)thX2G8LX5T

By Hank Williams, Sr.

I’ve never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by.
The moon just went behind the clouds
To hide its face and cry.

Did you ever see a robin weep,
When leaves begin to die
That means he’s lost the will to live,
I’m so lonesome I could cry.

The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky

And as I wonder where you are
I’m so lonesome I could cry.

Jambalaya (On The Bayou)thYG1XPVEA

By Hank Williams

Goodbye Joe me gotta go me oh my oh
Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou
My Yvonne the sweetest one me oh my oh
Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the bayou
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and fillet gumbo
Cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma cher amio
Pick guitar fill fruit jar and be gay-o
Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the bayou

Thibodaux Fontaineaux the place is buzzin’
Kinfolk come to see Yvonne by the dozen
Dress in style and go hog wild me oh my oh
Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the bayou
Settle down far from town get me a pirogue
And I’ll catch all the fish in the bayou
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie

Later on, swap my mon, get me a pirogue
And I’ll catch all the fish on the bayou
Swap my mon, to buy Yvonne what she need-oh
Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the bayou
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie

Hey, Good Lookin’thUPVR2VY7

By Hank Williams

Say hey, good lookin’ whatcha got cookin’?
How’s about cookin’ something up with me?
Hey, sweet baby don’t you think maybe
We can find us a brand new recipe?

I got a hot rod ford and a two dollar bill
And I know a spot right over the hill
There’s soda pop and the dancin’s free
So if you want to have fun come along with me.

Hey, good lookin’ whatcha got cookin’?
How’s about cookin’ something up with me?

I’m free and ready so we can go steady
How’s about saving all your time for me
No more lookin’ I know I been cookin’
How’s about keepin’ steady company?

I’m gonna throw my date book over the fence
And find me one for five or ten cents
I’ll keep it ’til it’s covered with age
‘Cause I’m writin’ your name down on ev’ry page.

Say hey, good lookin’ whatcha got cookin’?
How’s about cookin’ something up with me?

maxresdefaultI am counting on you to do just that, Mr. Hiddleston. I’d expect no less.

Helen on “The Crucible,” Acting & Meeting Richard: “Shattering . . . Towering . . . Chill”

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Dearest Helen (Wydville) aka my RA Fairy Godmother from London  (I have several of you scattered around the world and bless you all!) got to see our fellow this weekend in The Crucible in one of the preview performances along with dear Judit (aka my Hungarian Honey). I think Judit is still trying to wrap her head around it all . . .  Helen emailed me this morning with her interesting and honest observations and reflections on the overall production, Richard’s performance, the stage door experience and some other thoughts about acting and favorite actors, Shakespeare–and Richard’s feet. She kindly gave me permission to share this with you all.

(Being a writer, I could not resist weighing in myself–my thoughts are bracketed in bold letters while Helen’s words are in italics.)

 

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THE PRODUCTION

Helen:

1. Our seats were, I felt, pretty much the best in the house. We were front row and inches away from the actors [you DO realize how envious we all are of you, don’t you? Thank goodness we all love you around here . . .]

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2. The performance is shattering. I found the direction a little self-indulgent and some of the devices inexplicable, but it is very physical, very powerful, very intense, very atmospheric. I can’t wait to see what the critics make of it. [Me, too! I want to hear from someone other than fans and theatre bloggers . . . eager and anxious all at once!]

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3. All performances are strong. Rich gets increasingly better through the course of the play and in the final scene he is towering, in every sense of the word. I wept.  [feeling a lovely sort of frisson here reading Helen’s words] Standing ovation even before he came back to take his bows.

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4. Fangurls in total minority. Unlike Coriolanus *starring Tom Hiddleston*, vast majority of audience proper theatre-goers. Many middle-aged couples in suits and theatre-going attire. [ah, and these “proper theatre-goers” gave him a proper standing ovation, too. I think this bodes well . . .]

STAGE DOOR

Helen:

Afterwards it was all very low key. Orderly queue at stage door. Everybody beautifully and decorously behaved. [Does anyone else wonder if it would be the same–as mannerly and well-behaved–if this were a NYC audience? Just thinking of some past incidences . . .]

Some of the other actors came out first and a few of us chatted to Jack Ellis who plays Danforth. He was in no hurry and happy to sign autographs and natter for a few minutes.  Judit has seen the play three times and she says each time was like seeing a different play; well, it’s still in preview and Farber is tinkering[ So, will the critics see a substantially different production than the one seen early on by preview audiences? A shorter production?]

 Jack Ellis confirmed this in our chat. Speaking of whom, we just found out this morning that he’s Robin Ellis’ brother! Of course, when I looked him up, I recognised him instantly. He’s one of those actors that’s been in everything but has never made it big time. [FYI Robin Ellis is the original Poldark from the 70’s TV series]

 

When Rich came out, there was no hysteria or giggling. He was clearly in a hurry to get through the autographs and be gone but he was still courteous, sweet and obliging. He just came down the queue signing away, posing for photos, a quick word here and there. His voice is… honey. I said something about “shattering performance” to which he replied, “Aw, thank you; bless you.” It was all so understated and… chill, I suppose. [His legendary “Zen-like calm,” perhaps?]

It’s funny: I’ve waited six years for this and it all felt just so… understated and inevitable. So accessible. No biggie. Rich is no superhero, no wonderman, no awe-inspiring giant; just a big bloke with a sweet nature. The bloke who lives next door.

 

[funny, this is what I’ve said all along. RA himself reminds me of the boy next door. The really nice, polite, hard-working boy next door who is good to his mama and toils away at his chosen profession, which just happens to be a very high-profile one. Oh, and he’s rather good looking and charming, too].

THE MORNING AFTER MEETING THE MAN

Helen:

I don’t feel as if my life has changed… What I think I’m trying to say is, if you ever have the opportunity to meet him, great, it will be sweet, but it’s not as if he’s Nelson Mandela; you won’t have been in the presence of true greatness. And yes, he’s a handsome man, but in the flesh he doesn’t make you go gooey all over! After all these years of anticipation (I always knew I would meet him), it was just… very pleasant. [well, I would say that beats it being a crashing disappointment.]

I’m going back next Monday . . . Don’t know how I managed it but I even have the same seats [Lucky devil!]

Agzy will be there, next to us but one. Maybe Rich won’t be in such a hurry this time and we can exchange a few more words and maybe I shall be able to actually look him in the eyes. Somehow, even though this is what I’d really waited for, it didn’t happen. All too quick.

[Inquiring minds want to know: will looking him in those sparkling baby blues make Helen feel as if she is in “the presence of greatness?” 😉 ]

SOME OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE PHYSICAL SPECIMEN HIMSELF

Helen:

One last thing: natural hair colour almost auburn!! Well… chestnut. I bet he was blond as a child. Good arms but losing it very slightly round the midriff. Huge feet but not pretty, I think he’s slightly flat-footed. Very big hands. Generally a big man and bulky around the shoulders and back. Amazing voice and when he shouts….   [I bet people sit up and listen!]

Another thought:

With reference to his Telegraph interview (which, incidentally, I found to be the most thoughtful and insightful one he’s given to date), I have no trouble believing that a genuinely angry Armitage on the rampage would be quite terrifying.
[I totally concur. He’s a big, strapping, strong guy capable of great intensity. I really wouldn’t want to make him angry . . .]

Helen added these thoughts in another email. I really appreciate her inner fangurl striving for objectivity here–and I hope you do, too.

I’m trying to divorce my subjective emotions from impartiality. Let’s face it: Rich is no Ralph Fiennes (more of him later). In the first half he was good; not brilliant, but good.

But I felt he became progressively better in the second half – he owned John Proctor – and by the final scene you could see the torment, indecision, guilt all through his face and body. When he started coming to the realisation that he was about to betray the truth and all those people who had already consciously gone to their deaths you could see the revelation in his face and his eyes: it was a supreme performance.

As I think about it, I believe it was so powerful because he was so still and he does “still” so, so well. [ oh, yes, he does. As observed by Sir Peter, too]

Possibly Farber made him move around too much in the earlier scenes and it was a distraction. He’s such a big man and when he’s on the move, especially aggressively, he overwhelms the tiny stage; it’s almost grotesque. It’s certainly frightening. I found myself pedalling backwards in to my seat more than once.

Coriolanus is one of those plays that doesn’t get too many airings and I was completely unfamiliar with it. Having seen it with Hiddleston I was prompted to watch the Fiennes film. Play: good – if a little too minimalist for me given my prosopagnosia (face blindness) and the doubling up of roles.

Hiddleston’s performance: overall worthy and in some scenes inspired, especially in the “Mother what have you done?” scene. Film: Oh Emm Gee! Stupefying. Fiennes: Astonishing, terrifying; one of the most riveting performances it has ever been my privilege to see. If you haven’t seen it, you must!

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that movement is the key!

 

Thank you so much, Helen, for sharing this amazing experience with us!

 

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Nope. Not switching allegiance.

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Tonight Benny and I went out to eat and then took in a movie. We never saw The Avengers on its initial release in theatres and when I saw they were re-releasing for the Labor Day weekend, I mentioned it to Benny. I am trying to get out and about more, I like hanging out with my husband, and I knew it was a film he had wanted to see. And as I have also seen all the other Marvel Universe films, I was curious to see this entry.

I  have to confess I also felt the need to experience The Hiddleston phenomenon on the big screen. I know many people in my TL at Twitter are very taken with actor Tom Hiddleston. I had previously seen him in two projects, playing F. Scott Fitzgerald in Midnight in Paris and as the evil Loki in Thor. Of course, he was reprising the latter role in TA.

First, let me say we did find the film entertaining, if a bit thin on plot in places.  There were some witty lines here and there, impressive-looking CGI and Chris Evans still fills out that Captain America suit admirably.

Now, on to Tom.  He certainly plays a villain well and this role was a sharp contrast to his portrayal of Jazz Age icon Fitzgerald.  He has a lovely British accent, pretty blue eyes and an engaging smile (although said smiles are mainly on the evil side in TA since he is, after all, playing the baddie).  He is certainly a talented and attractive fellow and by all accounts, a real sweetheart in real life. He’s gained legions of followers as his profile has risen and, yep, he’s on Twitter.

Tom HIddleston as the villainous Loki in The Avengers. Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly

However–no alarm bells sounded for me seeing Hiddleston on the big screen. No Eureka moment in which I said to myself, “Where has this actor BEEN all my life?” I don’t feel the need to start Googling him to learn more.

Certainly, I was favorably impressed by his performance. I will be interested in seeing him in other productions of, shall we say, a more cerebral nature, such as The Hollow Crown. I will add him to the list of UK actors whose work I enjoy.

But I don’t believe I am going to find my heart divided between Rich and Tom, between the Hiddles and the Arms. I will stick with the Arms. My fangurl heart still belongs to the man who inspired me to write this blog, and a considerable amount of fanfic, and to make all that fanart, those fanvids and now to write a novel.  Not just anybody could have affected me in such a way.

I went for many, many years never thinking of myself as a die-hard fangurl of any performer. And then that tall, black leather-clad henchman with all his conflicts and contradictions strutted into my life. And then came shy, awkward John S., sunny, lovable Harry, proud and passionate mill owner Thornton, haunted, enigmatic Lucas, tough, resourceful, brave and compassionate Porter . . . Richard made me believe in the reality of each and every one of these characters.

And I am sure when I see him as the alpha warrior dwarf and as the widowed Oklahoma school teacher and concerned dad, I will believe in them, too. He’s touched my heart and soul and mind through his work.  And he’s shown himself to be a pretty decent human being.

Cute, sweet, talented. But not The One for me.

Cute, sweet, talented, beautiful, sexy, adorable, witty, intelligent, versatile, modest . . . The One.

The Hiddles has plenty of devoted admirers. I really don’t think he’ll miss me, do you? 😉