The Nashville TV show (2012-2018) was a musical drama set in Nashville, Tennessee. It brought great country music — along with the complicated and contentious lives of its fictitious country music singers — to viewers on a weekly basis. Still considered one of the all-time great shows for country music fans, the series premiered on ABC with more than 8.93 million viewers, but was canceled just four years later. However, fans didn’t take too kindly to that turn of events, so they, along with many of the show’s stars, began an online campaign designed to bring it back. ABC ignored the clear message they were sending, but CMT didn’t — the show returned, accompanied by the half-hour weekly behind-the-scenes digital companion series, NashChat.
The series gave us great storytelling and even better music, resulting in the Nashville TV show being nominated for multiple awards, among them several Golden Globes for its incredible original songs. These were made even more special by the fact that they were actually sung by the actors themselves — their inspiring performances gave viewers an inside look into what fame was really like for the biggest names in Music City.
The series that used music as an additional character, ended its run in July 2018 after six seasons and 124 episodes. But the memory of the Nashville TV show, filled with the personal drama of its characters along with unforgettable and brilliant music, will live on.
Nashville TV show cast then and now
So where did some of our favorite cast members go when leaving the acclaimed Nashville TV show?
Connie Britton as Rayna James
From five seasons as Tami Taylor in Friday Night Lights to Rayna James in Nashville, Connie Britton is easily one of the biggest TV actresses working today. She cemented her stardom with HBO’s original White Lotus series, but in between appeared in American Horror Story: Apocalypse and Dirty John, the latter of which earned her a Golden Globe nomination.
Clearly Rayna, the country music fading sensation of the show, was the focus of the first five seasons, earning her the title of “Queen of Country Music.” The fact is, Connie sang all her own songs on the show. “I grew up singing,” she said. “My mother was a music teacher.”
Born Constance Elaine Womack on March 6, 1967 in Boston, her breakout role almost didn’t happen. In the acclaimed independent film The Brothers McMullen (1995), she captivated moviegoers with her portrayal of Molly, while the film went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
At the start, though, she nearly cancelled her audition with director Edward Burns for the role that would launch her career. “Shooting that movie was such a joy,” she has said looking back. “Then we wound up winning the Sundance Film Festival. That big break moment is visceral. It happens once in a decade, maybe once in a lifetime.”
Upon graduatiing from Dartmouth College, Connie moved to New York, teaching aerobics while waiting for acting jobs – simultaneously spending two years at the Neighborhood Playhouse before going on to perform in regional theater and off-Broadway.
ut it was the acclaim of The Brothers McMullen that had Connie move to Los Angeles to further pursue her acting ambitions. She soon racked up diverse television credits on such shows as The Fighting Fitzgeralds, Spin City, The West Wing and others.
Hayden Panettiere as Juliette Barnes
Juliette was the sassy, pop-country star determined to outshine Rayna James, but since Nashville, actress Hayden Panettiere has focused more on her personal rather than professional life. “I didn’t have time to take care of myself” while shooting the series, nor did she have time to “think about and go through the pain I was experiencing physically and emotionally.”
Panettiere has been open about her alcohol struggles and the challenges of a young daughter she had with ex-husband and boxing champ Wladimir Klitschko, whom she sent to live with in Ukraine in 2018 amid her struggles, including postpartum depression.
In 2011, the actress portrayed Kirby Reed in Scream 4, a role that she reprised in a voice cameo in both 2022’s Scream and 2023’s Scream VI, a photograph showing that her character had survived the earlier film. This was the closest she came to appearing on screen since she took that hiatus from the bright lights in 2018.
Born in Palisades, New York on August 21, 1989, her mother got Hayden into commercials at just 11 months old, the first one for Playskool. Then, at 4 ½ years old, she was cast on the daytime drama One Life To Live as Sarah Roberts from 1994 to 1996, followed by her playing Lizzie Spaulding on Guiding Light from 1996 to 2000.
Since then, Hayden has gone on to appear in many movies on the big screen and small, and got her first big break as Claire on the hit TV show Heroes (2006 to 2010). This was followed by Nashville, where her singing and acting received rave reviews.
Clare Bowen as Scarlett O’Connor
The Australian actress appeared in the award winning horror miniseries Hungry Ghosts alongside fellow Aussie actor Bryan Brown, but has mainly focused on her musical career since Nashville wrapped,. She toured with and opened for Sugarland and then released her self-titled debut album in 2018. A year earlier she’d married country artist Brandon Robert Young after he aptly proposed at the Grand Ole Opry.
Before the recognition from Nashville, Clare Bowen was born on May 12, 1984 on an island in the middle of the Pacific. Years before landing her breakout role as Scarlett O’Connor, and launching her singing/songwriting career, a young Clare was growing up in Dharawal Country in rural Australia, writing down everything she felt, heard, saw or dreamed. “Music was my connection to the rest of the world,” she has said. “Music is the universal language. I felt no barrier there.” Bowen heard her first broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry in her grandpa’s kitchen.
The country lilt had seeped into her own vocal exploration, but it would be quite awhile before she’d duet with heavyweights like Zac Brown or Vince Gill or recorded songs with producers like T Bone Burnett and Buddy Miller. Along the way to recognition, Clare became an in-demand actress both in Australia and in the U.S. Upon getting the advice of the Sydney Theatre Company’s artistic director, Cate Blanchett — yes, the Oscar winning actress — she bought a one way ticket to Los Angeles in 2012, catching the bus to her Nashville audition and landing the role. Playing Scarlett gave Clare entrée to singing hundreds of songs, and playing multiple instruments. More recently, she starred in a Hallmark holiday movie.
Eric Close as Teddy Conrad
Nashville fans had to endure watching Teddy’s marriage to Rayna fall apart before their very eyes. Born on May 24, 1967 in Staten Island, Eric Close graduated some 3000 miles away, specifically from the University of Southern California, in 1989. Since then he has proven his creative talents as an actor, director and writer.
Before becoming Teddy Conrad, Eric starred for a decade in the drama series Without a Trace, which was nominated for a Golden Globe in the category of Best Ensemble Cast. He also entertained fans of Suits as crafty lawyer Travis Tanner. Some other previous credits include the sci-fi series Dark Skies and Now and Again, The Magnificent Seven, and features such as Seven Deadly Sins, Unanswered Prayers, produced by Garth Brooks; and the Steven Spielberg produced miniseries Taken.
He also co-starred opposite Bradley Cooper in Clint Eastwood’s Sniper, playing a CIA Agent. Away from the bright lights, Eric is also an accomplished director, having done so on episodes of Nashville and Without A Trace. He also directed two Hallmark Channel holiday movies.
Charles Esten as Deacon Claybourne
Deacon was a big time favorite with the viewers — just watching him perform alongside Rayna would bring back audiences week after week. Since Nashville, Charles Esten has continued his musical career, regularly performing at the Grand Ole Opry, touring and releasing new music. He also starred in the Netflix series Outer Banks. Born on September 9, 1965 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, not only is Esten an actor, but also a writer. Additionally, he travels throughout the United States and Canada with the Improv All-Stars.
Jonathan Jackson as Avery Barkley
You have to love a bad boy and that’s what the female persuasion did. Avery Barkely was hard not to adore as the series evolved, switching his affections from Scarlett to Juliette. The latter relationship gave the audience insight into the ups and downs of their dramatic romance. Since Nashville’s ending, Jonathan Jackson hasn’t done any acting, but he has taken country music and Nashville to heart, focusing on his music career and performing with his own band, Enation.
Born May 11, 1982 in Orlando, Florida, Jackson gave serious thought to becoming an actor after a 1991 family visit to Universal Studios in Hollywood. With his parents’ blessing, he moved with his brother Richard — and their mother — to Los Angeles for a six-month trial to see if he could land a role, their father staying back in Washington State.
Jonathan was lucky in landing a few commercials, but then won the coveted role of Luke and Laura’s son, Lucky Spencer, on the daytime series General Hospital. So Jackson became a permanent resident of Los Angeles – if there is such a thing. He stayed on the soap, gaining fans and recognition for 6 years, garnering 6 Daytime Emmy nods and 3 Daytime Emmys for Younger Actor along the way.
Not limiting himself to the small screen, Jackson also made five movies during his GH time, debuting in Camp Nowhere (1994). In 1997, he stepped away from the soap to shoot what would become his breakthrough film role in The Deep End of the Ocean (1999), opposite Michelle Pfeiffer. After leaving the soap in 1999, he was cast in a variety of films, playing everything from young offspring to romantic interests. While his passion is clearly on display on both the big and small screens, his other love is music, many of his songs having been featured in a number of movies.
Nashville TV show fun facts
Gunnar and Scarlett are not Southern at all. They faked their accents. Clare Bowen, who plays Scarlett, is from Australia while Sam Palladio, who plays Gunnar, is British.
All the characters on Nashville are really singing their tunes, and they’re all really playing guitar as well.
The original songs on the show are written by Nashville-based singer/songwriters.
Charles Esten might act uber serious on the series, but his background is in comedy. He was a regular on the improve show Whose Line Is It Anyway? from 1999 to 2005. He also appeared on The Office as Jim Halpert’s Stamford branch boss.
Love country? Keep reading below!