After six seasons, Nashville‘s final episode aired on CMT on Thursday. The series finale went out with a bang, not only eschewing a conventional ending but also bringing back one actor who was there on day one and who stuck with the show for a majority of its run: Connie Britton. And while it was great to see Britton back among her Nashville castmates, she revealed in an interview published the morning after the episode aired that it was a tough sell to get her back on the Nashville set.
Speaking to TV Line, Britton revealed that she initially balked at the idea of coming back to Nashville one final time after she left the show in 2017. “I’ll admit: When they first called me to do it, I was a little against it,” she told the outlet, “because I thought, ‘Rayna’s gone. And I don’t like the idea of having her come back as a ghost.'”
But series creator Callie Khouri’s offer of one legitimate way to bring Rayna (and Britton) back to the show — a final scene that broke the fourth wall, showed the show’s set and featured all of the actors as themselves, singing — got Britton back on board. “Then she told me about the last moment on the Ryman stage, and I loved the idea of that. So we made it happen.”
It seems that bringing Britton back worked out for everyone involved, especially costar Charles Esten, who not only got to sing with Britton for the final scene but got to act opposite her in a flashback scene during the series finale. While discussing the finale with People magazine, Esten opened up about why it was so good to have Britton back on set one last time.
“It wouldn’t have been the same; it wouldn’t have felt like closure, it wouldn’t felt like good-bye. She is everything to that show, and her character in a sense [drove] every episode, even for a year and a half, a season and a half after she was gone,” he told the outlet.
As for Britton, getting back to Nashville one final time seems to have been a positive experience overall. She had nothing but warm things to say to People when reflecting on her return.
“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.”