'Nashville's' Connie Britton on Calling Off Rayna's Wedding: It Was a "Huge Blow"

"Sometimes making the most important choices in our lives can be very painful and difficult," the actress and co-executive producer on ABC's country music drama tells THR.
ABC/Mark Levine
'Nashville'

When Nashville viewers last saw Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton), she was driving away from having called off her wedding to fellow country music superstar Luke Wheeler (Will Chase). While she looked like she was at peace with her decision, just minutes later she was sobbing in her car as she removed her engagement ring. When ABC's country music drama returns on Wednesday from its two-month hiatus, Rayna will continue to sort out her feelings for Luke and Deacon (Charles Esten).

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Deacon, meanwhile, ended the last episode learning that he has undiagnosed cirrhosis of the liver strongly pointing to cancer. That was just one of several surprising moments in Nashville's winter finale, including seeing Layla (Aubrey Peeples) floating face down in a pool, leaving viewers to wonder if she would survive — and something Nashville showrunner Dee Johnson previously told The Hollywood Reporter viewers will have to tune in to find out.

But before you find out if Layla's alive or how Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) and Avery (Jonathan Jackson) are adjusting to married life, THR caught up with Britton to discuss Rayna's big last-minute decision and how her role as a producer on the ABC drama affects her storyline and the direction of the show in general.

When did you find out that Rayna was going to call off her wedding?

I didn't really know specifically. I knew that the wedding wasn't going to happen, but I didn't know how exactly it wasn't going to happen. It was probably a few episodes before that I got the whole lay of the land. We had had conversations about it just prior to the season starting. I had a general conversation with the writers about what the arcs were going to be for the season.

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What do you think about how Rayna decided to call off the wedding and how that played out?

It's hard for me to imagine calling off a wedding on the day of the wedding, but I also understand the reasoning behind it. [Sometimes in life a] series of events escalate to bring you to a realization about something and the timing isn't the most convenient. I think that's what I ended up trying to play there. There was a cascading of events that landed her to realize that she was repeating cycles in her life that she didn't want to be repeating.

How would you characterize Rayna's mindset at the beginning of this next episode, because she seems both at peace with the decision and hurt?

One thing that I know about having gone through breakups is that even if it's your decision and it feels like something that is necessary and the right thing to do, that doesn't mean that it feels great and it's still incredibly painful. Sometimes making the most important choices in our lives can be very painful and difficult. She didn't want to hurt him. It was obviously a very public breakup. She probably wasn't that [cool with the way everything] went down. I'm sure she didn't feel great about having to break it off on the day of the wedding, so all of those things I think all play into the idea that it still feels like a huge blow even though it was something that she needed to do.

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You're also a co-executive producer on the show. How much input do you have into Rayna's character and some of the other storylines and direction of the show?

I try to be as collaborative as possible with the writers, and I really love the experience of that. I don't really have a lot of input into the direction of the show. But the writers tend to be really collaborative with me when it comes to really specific moments, and sometimes together we'll rejigger some things in the scripts that we all together agree might work better. But beyond that, I don't have a lot of input into the direction of the show, no.

Nashville returns on Wednesday at 10 p.m. on ABC. Come back to THR's The Live Feed after the episode for more insight from Britton into the events of "I'm Not that Good at Goodbye"

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