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‘The Last Ride’ Movie Chronicles Hank Williams’ Final Days

The Last Ride

The death of Hank Williams is almost as legendary as the icon’s life. A new film, “The Last Ride,” tackles the country music pioneer’s last three days, as he’s driven by a young kid from his home in Montgomery, Ala., to his scheduled New Year’s shows in West Virginia and Ohio. It was during this Jan. 1, 1953 trip that the 29-year-old died in a fog of mystery, presumably of heart failure, in the back of his Cadillac.

“Sometimes life and the efforts of others truly take you by surprise,” says the singer-songwriter’s daughter, Jett Williams, in a review on the film’s website. “I know those involved in The Last Ride surely did, and neither they, nor I, were prepared for it.

“It took my husband nine years in court to right the wrong visited upon me by strangers,” she adds, referring to the legal battle she endured to acquire a stake of her late father’s estate. “But it only took those involved in this movie 90 minutes to capture the essence of a genius of a man who, until recently, had become one dimensional due to the myths, the lies and the vultures who surrounded him.”

Playing Hank in the film is Henry Thomas, who was seen recently in “Dear John,” but is most recognized for his childhood role in “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.” The actor, who is also a musician, had anxiety about taking on the “Lovesick Blues” singer.

“I was really intimidated by the role,” he tells the Los Angeles Times newspaper. “I started obsessing about trying to look like him … and all of the things that go through your mind when you start focusing on playing a person who’s that iconic. You don’t want to drop the ball.”

Unlike most Hollywood films, which cost millions of dollars to make and film over the course of several months, The Last Ride was shot in 16 days in Little Rock, Ark., and only cost an even one million.

“We worked all of these scenes in the interior of the car in one day in front of a green screen like a play,” Henry reveals. “It was something like 60 pages.” Since each page accounts for one minute, that means more than half the movie was shot in just that one day.

The Last Ride cast also includes Jesse James as Silas — the driver enlisted to take Hank to his New Year’s gigs — as well as “The Big Bang Theory” actress Kaley Cuoco and former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson. The film is currently playing in New York and will expand to additional cities soon. Get a list of theaters here.

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