Nashville’s Charles Esten and Sam Palladio talk proposals, brooding stares and Christina Aguilera

Get excited British "Nashies" - Music City's famous fictional crooners have high hopes of a UK tour

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Series three of Nashville finally gets underway on More4 tonight. For us “Nashies” this side of the Atlantic, it’s been a long old wait for a resolution to that Deacon/Rayna/Luke cliffhanger – it began airing in America last autumn and is set to reach a dramatic conclusion in the States tonight (with a fourth season already confirmed).

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Now, we’re going to assume you haven’t gone on the internet, typed in “Nashville” and stumbled across a hoard of spoilers (a word to the wise – don’t do that or you’ll discover everything that’s about to happen). 

So, when we caught up with Nashville’s resident crooners Charles Esten and Sam Palladio (Deacon Claybourne and Gunnar Scott), we picked their brains on where series three picks up, Christina Aguilera’s guest spot and the possibility of a UK tour. Here’s what they had to say… 


Where do we find your characters when we return to Nashville?

Charles Esten: At the end of season two, when Luke Wheeler steps up with that proposal, Deacon says “No, no, no, that’s not how it’s meant to be. Rayna and I are meant to be,” and he proposes with a much smaller ring in a much smaller venue. I’m not going to give away what happens or what Rayna’s choice is but their storyline is still extremely key. The one true north of his life is his love for Rayna. 

Yes, that proposal. That was quite a moment for long-suffering Deacon/Rayna fans…

CE: There’s a funny story about that – there’s actually a phrase in the proposal where Deacon says “I know how to love you now”. Callie Khouri was writing the final episode of season two and said to me, “I’m in the middle of writing Deacon’s proposal to Rayna – is there anything you think he might like to say?” Completely coincidentally, I’d done a song write with [country music star] Deana Carter and we ended up writing a song called I know How to Love You Now . So, I said to Callie, I just wrote this song with Deana which I think is something Deacon would like to say to her and I saw a little spark in her eyes. I played her the song and I ended up using that line in that proposal, but the exciting part is when we came back for the third season, she said, “how would you like to sing the song on the show?” So, in that first episode, while we’re still trying to figure out who Rayna is going to end up with, Deacon sings I Know How to Love You Now.

We’re rather worried about Luke and the sheer size of that ring he gave her…

CE: But Luke is the king of country music, he’s one of the top guys and that certainly draws Rayna. The question is will her bond with Deacon prevail, or will it be Luke? Season three, you can expect the answers to that.

And what about Gunnar? 

Sam Palladio: For Gunnar, he’s still harbouring a flame for Scarlett and those two are destined to collide again at some point. At the start of the season he’s trying to rescue Scarlett from leaving town because she has her breakdown at the end of season two and can’t cope with the pressure of performing. So, that rekindles their friendship a little bit, much to the jealousy of Zoe, Gunnar’s girlfriend, who also happens to be Scarlett’s ex-best friend. It gets even more messy than it did at the end of season two with that love square of Gunnar, Avery, Zoe and Scarlett. 

We don’t know whether to call them SAG or ZAG anymore, but please reassure us we’ll be seeing plenty more music from the “love square”?

SP: You definitely will. Certainly you end up with some cool duets and trios this year – Avery, Scarlett and Gunnar end up playing a lot together in a new band. 

Phew! But what about Juliette and Avery? Gunnar played a key role in bringing to light her adulterous night of passion with Edgehill boss Jeff Fordham at the end of series two…

SP: It’s something Gunnar couldn’t really hide – he wears his heart on his sleeve too much and you can see it written on his face. That relationship between Avery and Juliette blossoms this year and it’s really cool to see – they make a great couple on the show and they have great comic energy. There are some nice, lighter moments in series three as well as the usual Juliette throwing a fit over all kinds of things so Avery becomes very much her messenger and basically manager even though it’s in a romantic context.

Now, we know y’all have been touring in the States – how about you hop on a plane and play some UK dates? 

CE: That is my fondest wish and I’m always saying it to anyone that will listen. I get a sense through social media that the show has a real and devoted following there. 

SP: There was talk of potentially doing some UK dates after the big summer tour in the States. I keep pushing for it so let’s hope they can get everyone over. I really hope so.

You tackle a fair few weighty issues on Nashville – addiction, mental illness, to name just two – do you feel a degree of responsibility to portray them accurately and appropriately?

CE: With a lot of these issues, they lift you into a place of great drama, but what you find again and again, especially with social media, is when you touch on an ‘issue’, it’s an issue because it’s very real and immediate for many people – your plot point is somebody’s life so you quickly feel a sense of responsibility to treat it not just faithfully but in a way that’s real. It makes you think, “alright, this is more than just the next episode of something that’s happening – let’s do this the best we can.” And just when I think sometimes maybe it was too much, I’ll see something on the local Nashville news or paper and I go, “nope, that’s even wilder than we could have imagined.” Truth beats fiction in terms of how out there something can get. 

You’ve had a special guest star – Christina Aguilera – on set this season. How was that?

SP: Unfortunately she hasn’t had any scenes with Gunnar yet which I was very disappointed about. I thought maybe another girlfriend for Gunnar might work? Unfortunately that didn’t happen.

And finally, we’ve got to ask… Deacon’s famous brooding gaze – is that the product of hours of practise in front of the mirror?

CE: It’s probably just the wrinkles on this old face! There’s even a website called Laser-Eyed Deacon that took those brooding angry stares and photoshopped laser beams flying out of my eyes!

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We’ve checked it out. It’s hilarious. 

Y’all can catch the return of Nashville tonight at 10pm on More 4

Read more: Nashville – the story so far…

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