Warning: this article contains spoilers from last night’s episode of Nashville. Read at your own risk.
It’s the end of an era on CMT’s Nashville as Connie Britton’s Rayna Jaymes died in the episode. Britton talked to Entertainment Weekly about her character’s end after the episode and talked about why it was time to move on.
The news of Rayna’s death comes nearly two months after Britton gave an interview saying she’s in “for the duration,” though it now may mean that Britton will be doing behind the scenes work on the show.
Britton said talks of her departing the show started when CMT picked up the show for a fifth season and said that it was the length of time that she’d been on the show was the main decision for wanting to leave the show and that money wasn’t a factor in her decision to leave the show.
As for when Britton got the script, she said it was a weird moment for her. “It was very surreal and not easy. There was definitely a big part of me that was not ready to go but there we were. I wanted to make those moments as strong as possible for Rayna.”
Britton said there were a lot of tears on the set this week, and that they couldn’t get through the final song without having to stop so often because of all the tears.
“Rayna means so much to me and so does the audience of Nashville and to me that was priority number one. Whatever we did had to honor the character and honor the show and feel like we were doing it right,” Britton said.
As for what Britton may do in the future, she said she’s always open to working with Ryan Murphy again, as they worked together in the first season in American Horror Story, and also said she’s looking forward to finding out what the future holds for her.
Meanwhile, showrunner Marshall Herskovitz also spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the decision to kill off Rayna and how the show will move on from that.
Herskovitz said Britton came to him and said she was wanting to leave the show and that they worked together to come up with an exit for Britton and Rayna that would be fulfilling for her.
“We spent about a week trying to figure out a way for the character to leave the show and still be alive, but there’s just no way to do it … She couldn’t just be on tour. We realized — as sad and painful as it was — that there was only one answer: The character had to die,” Herskovitz said.
Herskovitz said Britton will still appear this season in the form of flashbacks, but that’s all he’s teasing for now. “I think the best episode we’ve done this year is the one that follows her funeral. I would put that episode against any I’ve done in my entire career. It’s an astonishing symphonic beautiful tribute to this woman and human connection and grief. That’s one I hope nobody misses. It really goes to the heart of what it means for people to be truly connected to each other.”
Nashville airs Thursday nights on CMT. Catch up on the full season and past episodes on Hulu.