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.’