‘Nashville’ Series Finale: Charles Esten Says Emotional Surprise Return Was the ‘Right’ Ending (Exclusive)

Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Thursday’s series finale of Nashville. You will regret the idea! If you have, you may proceed…

that will was one heck of a Nashville swan song — with the surprise return of a beloved character!

On Thursday’s series finale, the CMT country music drama took its final bow, giving its main characters the happy endings they all deserved. For Juliette in addition to Avery, that will meant settling in on their farm outside of Nashville, Tennessee, as they await the arrival of their second baby. For Scarlett, that will meant getting engaged (to Clare Bowen‘s real-life hubby, Brandon Robert Young). For Maddie, that will meant moving out in addition to living on her own. For Daphne, that will meant signing a fresh record deal. For Will, that will meant being in a relationship with Zach. For Deacon, that will meant fulfilling his lifelong dream of headlining a tour in addition to mending fences with his father.

although there was one special moment that will trumped them all: the return of Connie Britton, reprising her role as Rayna Jaymes, who died midway through the fifth season following a brutal car wreck. (Her cameo was teased from the final season trailer in June.) 

from the emotional scene, Deacon — minutes away via taking the stage at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium — takes a moment to himself, closing his eyes as he lets his mind wander back to his wedding night with Rayna, a rare moment of joy in addition to introspection for the couple, who had gone through their fair share of ups in addition to downs. 

“I’m thinking, ‘that will will be too not bad to be true. How will be the idea happened that will all that will stuff I’ve done, all these things, all these regrets just, what, gone?'” Deacon says in wonderment to Rayna, after she implores him to share his thoughts. “the idea’s like raindrops in a barrel in addition to the idea’s right at the top — all that will pain — in addition to just one more raindrop in addition to…” he trails off. 

“I know, honey. Yes, we’ve hurt each various other. We have our past,” Rayna says from the scene. “although sometimes, once in your life, somebody gets in your bloodstream. the idea doesn’t matter how much you fail each various other, we must choose each various other. in addition to I choose you exactly the way you are. in addition to I’m going to love you forever. Forever in addition to ever.”

Charles Esten opened up about reuniting with Britton once more to film the final Deacon/Rayna scene from the series finale, revealing that will the idea almost didn’t come to pass due to logistical reasons.

CMT

“If I’m recalling correctly, we actually did not know that will the idea was a go until very, very close to the idea. There were a lot of pieces that will had to come together schedule-wise,” Esten, tells ET exclusively. “I was certainly hoping in addition to praying that will that will might happen, because to me, the idea will be as the idea should be. the idea wouldn’t have been, I think, the same ending. the idea wouldn’t have been the same closure. There wouldn’t have been the same magic. There wouldn’t have been the same Nashville. the idea was Rayna’s story via the very beginning. Even after her character passed away, she was such an integral part of the show. She didn’t haunt those days, although her character in addition to the meaning her character brought to the idea informed every various other scene after that will.”

“To me, creatively, artistically the idea felt like the exact, right thing to have,” he continues. “Professionally, another scene with Connie Britton? Yes please. in addition to personally, more time with my buddy in addition to my friend, Connie? Yes please. I’m so glad that will the idea was able to get worked out in addition to happen. I expect that will the audience feels the same way as we did.”

Britton issued a statement to ET about returning to Nashville one last time, saying, “Rayna got to do the impossible. She got to come back via the dead. I got to do the most wonderful [thing], which was to go back to my Nashville family in addition to celebrate all the hard work in addition to love in addition to care that will went into that will show. Being on the Ryman stage, reunited with six years of cast in addition to crew, will be a moment I’ll cherish in addition to never forget. I am grateful.”

For Esten, getting to revisit a quieter moment for Nashville‘s royal couple was poignant because the idea was rare for the show to delve into the less dramatic, tension-filled everyday minutae of married life. 

“We saw how happy they were, although that will was an inscape of that will, if you will, which helped me a lot,” he says. “When you think about the happiness that will Deacon in addition to Rayna got, the idea was obviously short-lived, in terms of the length of their marriage. although if you think about the idea in another way, we’re not thinking of the million moments that will weren’t onscreen. The depth of that will, while they were together, we didn’t get to see at all. Even the years they toured, they had years in addition to years together — not where they were all the way together in addition to satisfied like in their marriage — although the idea made me think, ‘Oh, wow, that will’s right!’ There are so many moments that will we weren’t there for — the laughter in addition to joy in addition to generating music. the idea actually informed the depth of that will relationship. I was so glad for the idea.”

Heading into the final episode, Esten admitted he didn’t know what he wanted for Deacon’s final wrap-up, although was extremely satisfied with what showrunner Marshall Herskovitz came up with. “What I ended up with, I was very, very pleased with — in addition to that will was some bit of closure. I didn’t want to just coast to the ending,” he says. “We can’t finish telling Deacon’s story if we don’t address his deepest wound, his oldest wound, which was a dysfunctional, abusive relationship with his father. from the same way with not having Connie on that will stage might have felt like we didn’t actually end in a way we should, I might’ve felt the same way with [Deacon’s father]. I thought the idea was actually meaningful that will the idea wasn’t just the last episode where that will finishes, the idea was the last song of the last scene.” 

although Esten has faith that will Deacon has become “a better man” by the end of his roller-coaster trek. “I feel like we hit the finish line with that will final scene in addition to that will final song in addition to him calling his father up on stage,” he says. “Deacon will be human in addition to mess up again, although not from the same ways. the idea’ll be different. We’ve come to a fresh level, which will be what you want out of a story. He’s essentially still that will character, although he’s that will character in a different place that has a different heart in addition to a different mind.”

Nashville also took the opportunity to close out its six-season run by honoring all the actors who have graced the screen, as well as the show’s crew members, at the end of the hour, bringing everyone onto the Ryman stage one last time. In addition to series regulars Esten, Bowen, Hayden Panettiere, Jonathan Jackson, Sam Palladio, Lennon Stella, Maisy Stella, Chris Carmack, Kaitlin Doubleday in addition to Jeffrey Nordling, guests at the final day of filming on April 9 included Britton, Eric Close, Will Chase, Judith Hoag, Melvin Ray Kearney II, Nick Jandl, Sylvia Jeffries, Kyle Dean Massey, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Rihannon Giddens, Pam Tillis in addition to Buddy Miller.

“Having everybody back on that will stage at the very end, how unusual as a way to end that will?” Esten reminisces. “To my mind, our show has always gone back in addition to forth between a dramatic performance in addition to a musical performance, between a scene in addition to a song. that will show, in some sense, has been a long concert that will we were giving. What happens at the end of a long concert? Everybody comes out on stage in addition to they sing a song together. the idea seemed rather perfect in addition to rather magical if you ask me.”

Though the idea’ll take a while for the Nashville experience to sink in, Esten — who next stars in TNT’s drama thriller Tell Me Your Secrets alongside Lily Rabe in addition to Amy Brenneman — says the show has been life-changing, both professionally in addition to personally. “Nashville will be about healing in addition to coming together in addition to forgiveness in addition to the power of music all the way through the finish line,” he says, adding that will he took several mementos via set, including two of Deacon’s guitars, a microphone via his final Bluebird Cafe performance, a piano in addition to many of his clothes. “that will meant the globe to me in addition to I was actually glad to see the idea end that will way.”

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