THE BOOT – Playing Audrey Williams in the upcoming Hank Williams‘ biopic, I Saw the Light, proved challenging for Elizabeth Olsen. The actress admits that it was tough to know how to best portray the complexity of the country icon’s first wife, to whom he was married for seven years.
“I didn’t know much about Hank and Audrey. I knew who Hank Williams was, [but] I didn’t know who Audrey was until I read the script,” Olsen tells The Boot. “So before doing any research, you just see the relationship on the page, which was a woman who, on the surface, it seems like she’s difficult. She’s demanding, and she has an ego, and it blows up his ego, and she’s stubborn and manipulative.”
However, it only took one read through the script, written by director Marc Abraham, to convince Olsen to take on the role. And when she signed on, Olsen explains, her goal became to “defend” Audrey Williams.
“I read it and felt really sorry for her, and I felt like she had a very difficult situation …,” Olsen says. “Even though there aren’t certain things that I agree with that she fought for, that she fought about, I at least tried to find out why, or what that motivation is.
“I think if you can see two sides of the equation, it makes for a much more interesting dynamic between relationships, or in a film or in drama,” Olsen continues. “I just tried to defend her as much as possible so people could care for her, because in history, people kind of give her a hard time.”
Olsen spent months before filming began doing research, looking wherever she could to find as much information as possible about Audrey Williams.
“The internet has kind of an okay amount of things about Audrey. The documentary that the BBC did about Hank was very helpful, because they do a lot of interviews with people who knew her. So you get to hear how people hear stories about her, which they laugh about how difficult she was, and there are also reportings of interviews she’s done about Hank, in her older age after he passed. And then I also got a good bit from the Country Music Hall of Fame, where they just finished doing a Hank Williams exhibit last year when we were here,” Olsen notes. “… I got to see a lot of personal journals and writing and her business work.
“She was a business woman. She was circling all the top charts: ‘… and here’s Hank, and here’s someone singing one of Hank’s songs,’” Olsen adds. “They’re divorced, and she’s still circling, and it’s all in a big scrapbook.”
Audrey Williams aspired to be a singer as well. Although she lacked her husband’s talent and charisma, in I Saw the Light, Williams spends time alternating between trying to make herself be heard and being angry that Hank Williams’ career is taking off while hers is stagnant. For Olsen, the mediocre singing was perhaps the most arduous part of the role.
“I’m not saying I sing great. I do have vocal control. I know what flat is, I know what sharp is, and I do know how to crack my voice. Those techniques, you learn,” Olsen admits. “So it was a really fun play with Rodney [Crowell], and to try to figure out to the astute musical ear what sounds bad enough, but maybe to the everyday man, it’s not that bad. Because you can’t make her look like an insane person for thinking that she can [sing], and you don’t want to make him look like an insane person [for thinking she can’t], so you try to strike a balance there.
“… Anytime I got Rodney Crowell to laugh, I was like, ‘Great! Let’s stick with that one,’” she says.
I Saw the Light, which also stars Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams, is set for release on March 25 in New York City, Los Angeles and Nashville, and on April 1 nationwide.
We sat down with Olsen after the film’s premiere, to discuss what it was like watching her rumored beau transform into one of the most iconic singers in American history, how she reconciled her own trepidations of playing a historical figure, and just what to expect when a little movie called Captain America: Civil War drops this May.
How much did you know about Hank Williams before you signed on for the project?
I knew the songs that were the most famous, so I’ve heard Hank’s name a lot. But I didn’t really know much about him.
Strange, since he’s considered one of the most influential songwriters ever, yet our generation just isn’t that familiar with his work.
No, but my friends who are musicians were. One of my best friend’s mothers, when I told her I was going to work on a Hank Williams film, she was like ‘Are you joking?’ It turns out her youngest daughter was named Audrey after my character. She told me that all of Audrey’s boots were engraved with her name, so I asked our costume designer to make me a pair of Audrey boots, and now I have my own pair of Audrey boots.
Was Audrey an egomaniac?
When I went to the Country Music Hall of Fame [in Nashville], they had a vault of all of the Williams family’s things that they were preserving, things like family photos, newspapers, collages, and in almost every photo, Audrey’s dresses were embroidered with a big “A” and all of her boots did, in fact, say “Audrey.”
What do you think that means?
Well, she always had a genuine expression on her face. She never seemed false. She was either truly having a joyful time, or she was just not having it. I think she’s a business woman, and I’m sure she saw certain things as branding opportunities. So she took on the whole business, and Hank had none of that, so in a way she’s very responsible for him having a career. They needed each other.
Talk to me about Tom’s performance. What was it like watching him transform from an outsider’s perspective?
I saw him singing first in the studio in Nashville. I was nervous at first because it was so intimidating. You’re trying to figure out being the actor singing for the part, without having played the part, which is a very strange place to be. It felt a little crunchy for both of us. But once we got on set and into character, everything just seeped in. When we were doing our camera test, Tom was taking on the facial expressions, had the outfit on, and I just thought ‘That is so gnarly.’
Science Fiction com – Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. were on hand at the Nickelodeon ‘Kids’ Choice Awards’ to present an extended version of the ‘Captain America: Civil War’ trailer. While it is largely identical to the clip that debuted last week, introducing Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, this longer version offers fans a better look at some of the supporting cast, including Frank Grillo as baddie Crossbones, Emily VanCamp in action as Agent 13, longer shots of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and a face-off between the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and The Vision (Paul Bettany).
Joe and Anthony Russo really upped the ante with their political thriller ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, one of the most acclaimed– and highest grossing– of the Marvel Studios films. The pair are on board to direct ‘Avengers: Infinity War – Part One’, but ‘Civil War’ should give fans a look at how the pair handle a gaggle of superheroes all sharing the screen.
Check out the new clip below:
VULTURE – How would you like to roll around in bed with Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen as they kiss, exchange declarations of love, and mull a nighttime “bronco ride” that sounds more than a little steamy? You’re in luck, because this exclusive clip from their new movie, I Saw the Light, is so intimate — and the chemistry between the stars so evident — that you’ll almost feel like three’s a crowd in that big bed.
In the film from writer-director Marc Abraham (out March 25), Hiddleston plays country-music star Hank Williams, whose undeniable talent was marred by a battle with alcohol addiction. He’s off the bottle in this bedroom scene, which his wife Audrey notes will only be a boon during their forthcoming bronco ride. Press play and watch as the two of them get it on, and please don’t think of Hiddleston and Olsen’s better-known Marvel roles: The notion of Loki fooling around with a negligee-wearing Scarlet Witch might inspire some mighty weird fanfic.
MOVIEPILOT – Now, I may be going out on something of a limb here, but I’d wager that – for all that Elizabeth Olsen was excellent in the role – the vast majority of fans came away from Avengers: Age of Ultron having more-or-less no idea how in the hell any of Wanda ‘Scarlet Witch’ Maximoff’s powers worked. After all, she seemed to be something in between a telekinetic, a telepath and a poorly-defined magic user – all traits that haven’t been previously explored in the MCU. Check out this Age of Ultron featurette, which introduced the variety of her abilities:
Of course, in Marvel comic book form, Scarlet Witch’s powers make a lot of sense, just so long as you’re willing to suspend your disbelief a little: depending on the era and writer, they’re some variation of mutation-enabled probability-distorting ‘hexes’ and a whole bunch of magical ability.
In the MCU, though, Wanda has been left with a mysterious – and subtly different – set of powers, that it seems neither she nor us fans really understand. That could, however, soon change. Y’see:
‘Captain America: Civil War’ Will Apparently Explain Scarlet Witch’s Powers
That, at least, seems to be the general implication of recent comments from two key creative components.
For one thing, Elizabeth Olsen herself has noted that the movie is set to showcase a whole lot of development for the young hero – including her burgeoning powers. As she recently revealed to SuperheroHype:
“We find Scarlet Witch without a home, without a family, and she ends up creating a surrogate family within the Avengers and making a decision to be a part of the team. I think a lot of that has to do with Jeremy’s character – like his attitude towards her and the speech he gives her at the end of the film. So we pick up with her having started a new life, but still trying to figure out what her abilities are and if using them causes greater good or greater damage.”
Or, in other words, there will likely be at least a little of the film’s running time spent focused on Wanda’s powers, and on the fact that they do, in fact, have some kind of limit.
Indeed, as the movie’s co-director Joe Russo revealed, those limits are firmly in the filmmakers’ minds:
“We like characters that have limitations to their powers, so there’s a cost for everything that they do…Wanda can’t fly, she can use her power to push herself off, launch and then bring herself back down. But she has to stop herself and it’s not the most graceful version of flying. It’s just using her power to create energy to push herself up and bring herself down, but she’s still subject to gravity.”
Which is a) good to hear from the standpoint of super-heroic realism, and b) quite possibly a hint towards just what her powers are actually based upon.
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – With more than 10 superheroes lining up for a fight, fans wondered just how big Captain America: Civil War was going to be. Now they have their answer — with a 2 hours and 27 minutes runtime, Disney confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.
At 147 minutes, Civil War will be the longest Marvel movie to date, coming in four minutes longer than the previous title holder, 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers. Apparently, Marvel movies featuring teams of superheroes run long; last year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron ran 141 minutes, with all other Marvel releases save 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier (136 minutes) clocking in around the two hour mark.
For those looking for specifics, continuing down from longest to shortest, the remaining Marvel movies are Iron Man 3 (130 mins), Iron Man (126 mins), Iron Man 2 (125 mins), Captain America: The First Avenger (124 mins), Guardians of the Galaxy (122 mins), Ant-Man (117 mins), Thor (114 mins) and, matching each other for joint last place, The Incredible Hulk and Thor: The Dark World (112 mins).
Captain America: Civil War is likely to need the expanded length; in addition to pitting two teams of superheroes against each other and tying up the Winter Soldier plot left dangling in the previous Cap movie, the feature will also introduce two new players to the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland).
While it may be the longest Marvel movie to date, it’s far from the longest superhero movie released. This month’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice runs 151 minutes, while 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises ran an impressive 165 minutes.
Captain America: Civl War opens May 5.