PEOPLE.COM: Six seasons, two networks and one leading lady’s sudden death later, the complicated crooners of CMT’s Nashville took their final curtain call.
Thursday night’s series finale concluded with Deacon (Charles Esten) performing his ballad about the simple things, “A Life That’s Good,” with his father. The rest of the drama’s musicians like Juliette (Hayden Panettiere), Scarlett (Clare Bowen), Avery (Jonathan Jackson) and Gunnar (Sam Palladio) gradually join him on stage. The camera pulls back, breaking the fourth wall to reveal the entire set. Their characters melt away, and suddenly they’re themselves, actors relishing one last jam session. The crew comes, out, too, and Connie Britton — who played country queen Rayna James until 2017 and returned in a tender finale flashback — takes her rightful place center-stage.
“Rayna got to do the impossible. She got to come back from the dead,” Britton, 51, said in a statement. “I got to do the most wonderful, which was to go back to my Nashville family and celebrate all the hard work and love and care that went into that show. Being on the Ryman stage, reunited with 6 years of cast and crew, is a moment I’ll cherish and never forget. I am grateful.”
And 52-year-old Esten — who’s now on tour singing songs from Nashville — opened up to PEOPLE about his thoughts on the finale, Britton’s return and what’s next.
TVGUIDE.COM: Happily ever afters were a dime a dozen in the Nashville series finale, and honestly, we wouldn’t have had it any other way!
In the final hour of the show, we got to see Deacon (Charles Esten) finally forgive his father, the girls embark on their own journeys as young artists, Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) and Avery (Jonathan Jackson) reconcile, Scarlett (Clare Bowen) and Gunnar (Sam Palladio) embark on new chapters in their lives, and about a million other lose ends tied up in a nice bow. Perhaps most satisfying of all though, we got to see one final moment between Rayna (Connie Britton) and Deacon!
Rather than give us a dream sequence or some kind of message from beyond, Nashville decided to keep Rayna’s return grounded in reality, making it a flashback to her and Deacon’s wedding night. The memory of Rayna forgiving Deacon for all that had passed between them — no matter how hard — was exactly what Deacon needed in that moment before going on stage to forgive his father. It was a beautiful tribute not only to Rayna’s character, but the relationship between Rayna and Deacon that was such a staple of the show from the very beginning. We even got to see her perform one last time in the final number with the entire cast!
“Rayna got to do the impossible,” Connie Britton said of the finale. “She got to come back from the dead. I got to do the most wonderful, which was to go back to my Nashville family and celebrate all the hard work and love and care that went into that show. Being on the Ryman stage, reunited with six years of cast and crew, is a moment I’ll cherish and never forget. I am grateful.”
To get his thoughts on what it felt like to reunite on that stage one last time, TV Guide also spoke with Charles Esten, who breaks down that touching reunion, all those finale twists and turns and his tenure on the ABC-turned-CMT drama in this interview.
NASHCOUNTRYDAILY.COM: Charles Esten can add a Guinness World Records title to his lengthy resume.
After his performance on the Today show on July 25, Charles was presented with a certificate for the Guinness World Records title for the Most Consecutive Weeks to Release an Original Digital Single by a Music Act. The title reflects Charles’ #EverySingleFriday campaign, which started on July 15, 2016, and ended on July 21, 2017. The record represents 54 original songs that Charles wrote (or co-wrote), recorded and released every Friday during the campaign.
“On July 1, 2016, I posted a video where I promised to put out a brand-new original single every single Friday for ‘as long as it made sense,’” says Charles. “At that time, I had no idea how it would go, or how long I could do it. I only knew that, as a lifelong songwriter, through my role as Deacon Claybourne on Nashville, I had found my way to Music City and, surrounded by some of the most talented people in the world, I was feeling a level of inspiration and creativity that needed a different kind of outlet than an EP or an album. I had no idea how challenging this project would be, or how incredibly fulfilling, or that a little over a year later, I would complete #EverySingleFriday with 54 original singles released. I certainly had no idea that number would be considered a Guinness World Records title.”
The Guinness World Records title comes on the heels of Charles’ 100th performance on the Grand Ole Opry on July 20.
DEADLINE.COM With Nashville nearing the end of its six-season run, star Charles Esten has booked its followup series gig — a season-long recurring role on TNT’s upcoming thriller drama Tell Me Your Secrets.
Tell Me Your Secrets, which is toplined by Lily Rabe, Amy Brenneman and Hamish Linklater, marks Esten’s first major acting commitment since Nashville, whose series finale airs later this month on CMT.
Created and written by Harriet Warner, Tell Me Your Secrets, produced by Bruna Papandrea’s Made Up Stories and Turner’s Studio T, is described as an intense, morally complex thriller. It revolves around a trio of characters, each with a mysterious and troubling past: Emma (Rabe) is a young woman who once looked into the eyes of a dangerous killer, John (Linklater) is a former serial predator desperate to find redemption, and Mary (Brenneman) is a grieving mother obsessed with finding her missing daughter. As each of them is pushed to the edge, the truth about their pasts and motives grows ever murkier, blurring the lines between victim and perpetrator.
Esten will play Saul Barlow, a grieving father who has coped with the disappearance of his daughter by walking away from materialism and trying to move on from the loss. This has severely strained his relationship with his wife (Brenneman), who refuses to give up the search.
For six seasons, four on ABC and two on CMT, Esten played the male lead, Deacon Claybourne, on country music drama series Nashville. His TV series credits also include Enlightened and Big Love. Esten is repped by Stone Manners Salners.