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Will fans still love “Nashville” even after the departure of star Connie Britton (and her beloved character Rayna’s dramatic onscreen death)? Co-star Charles Esten, who plays Rayna’s husband Deacon, thinks so.


In an on-set interview with The Washington Post, Charles indicated the show may be about to take a happier turn.

“It’s a story line that could be transcendent,” he said, particularly as his character shifts his focus to raising Rayna’s two daughters.

RELATED: “Nashville” star Charles Esten hopes fans find healing in his portrayal of grief

Deacon has “grown all along the way and now he has these girls under his wing and it would be immoral of him not to stand up — and not only to survive and raise them, but to raise them with some joy in their lives and some peace in their lives and some happiness in their lives,” Charles said. “So he has to fight for them, and for himself, to do that.”

Charles also addressed fans’ disappointment over Rayna’s death following a car accident in the first half of the season.

“Just because it’s a fictional character doesn’t mean there isn’t real sadness,” he told the newspaper. “For a lot of people, these characters become their friends, and become a part of their lives.” Rayna and Deacon “were written so beautifully, and it was such a hard, long journey for us to finally get to that place in the sun, that it hurts to find that it’s gone.”

RELATED: “Nashville’s” Charles Esten reveals this embarrassing moment from his Opry debut

But he’s cagey when asked what’s next for his character. “Deacon’s always been confronting his demons and trying to be a stronger man and a better man, and Rayna was key to that,” he said. “So the question is, did she only make him strong enough to survive with her? Or did she somehow help make him strong enough to survive even without her?”

We’ll find out when the fifth season of “Nashville” resumes tonight on CMT following a mid-season hiatus.

“Nashville” star Charles Esten hints at happier storyline to come Photo by Sanford Myers/Invision/AP
Phyllis Stark is a Nashville-based entertainment journalist who has been reporting extensively on country music (and loving every moment of it) for more than two decades.
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