Wrenn Schmidt Explains Difficulties of Playing ‘Mysterious’ Bobbie Jett in ‘I Saw the Light’
Wrenn Schmidt plays Bobbie Jett, one-time girlfriend of Hank Williams, in the upcoming biopic I Saw the Light, but with very little written about Jett, the actress acknowledges that she faced a challenge in piecing together her role.
Schmidt tells The Boot that the film's writer and director, Marc Abraham, sent her pieces of Williams' biography, also named I Saw the Light, that pertained to Jett, and that she watched a documentary about the country legend to ascertain a bit more information, "but, honestly, there isn't that much about Bobbie Jett out there."
"She’s kind of mysterious. She’s like the unknown woman," Schmidt notes. "I feel like most people honestly don’t know about Bobbie Jett. They know that there was Audrey [Williams], and they know that there was Billie Jean [Horton]. I sometimes think people don’t actually put two and two together: 'Wait, but there’s Jett Williams, whose mom was …?'"
Hank Williams and Bobbie Jett are Jett Williams' parents; however, she was not raised by either of them. Williams was born on Jan. 6, 1953 -- five days after her father's death on Jan. 1, 1953 -- and first raised by her paternal grandmother, Lillian Stone, then adopted by a new set of parents after Stone's death in 1955.
"What was most fascinating to me was that that was such a short relationship that did end in a child, and that Bobbie Jett didn’t keep Jett. That always fascinated me," Schmidt admits. "The film doesn’t really explore that too much, but that was something I was always trying to wrap my head around: What was going on in her life that she felt like she couldn’t take care of her?"
The actress did as much research as possible for her role, but she opted not to contact Jett Williams directly, out of respect for the script that Abraham wrote.
"The thing that’s hard when you’re doing a biopic is that there’s a script we’re working on, and then there’s the other part of the story that is true for other people, and you have to ride a line between being true to that and then trying to figure out what’s the part that you can implement that’s going to be useful," Schmidt explains. "I feel like it’s always daunting when you’re playing a real person, and it’s always daunting, too, when you know there’s somebody out there who this portrayal will be very important to."
In addition to discovering more about Bobbie Jett, Schmidt also walked away from I Saw the Light with a greater appreciation for country music.
"I grew up around country music, but I don’t think I had any interest or respect for it early on," Schmidt says. "I was a silly snob about it early on, and then there was this moment in my early 20s where it clicked, and I was like, ‘You were an idiot! It’s amazing!’ I was missing out on all this time."
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