Following last night's super-dramatic Nashville episode in which fan-favorite character Rayna Jaymes died, many fans are wondering, why did Connie Britton leave the hit show?
In a new interview with TV Line, the 49-year-old actress opened up about her tough decision to exit the series. "It was something that had been percolating over time, and there were lots of different reasons behind it. But my priority was really making sure that the timing was right. My priority has always been Nashville," Connie began.
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"When the show was moved [from ABC] to CMT and we got these great new showrunners — Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick — I was [confident] the show would be in a good place," she continued. "Because one thing we learned over the summer is how passionate the fans are. We would not be on the air right now if it weren’t for the fans."
Connie as Rayna on Nashville. (Photo Credit: R/R)
"We’ve all been so incredibly grateful for that. But the fans love every single one of these characters. And the show is now in a place where all of these characters can live and just be incredibly dynamic and amazing. I feel like Nashville can go on indefinitely," Connie said.
When asked if she thought her character, Rayna, had accomplished everything she'd hoped on the show, Connie candidly replied, "Maybe that was part of [me leaving]. As I said, there were a lot of things that came into play. Some of them were personal… It was just the right timing."
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"It was very hard to say goodbye. Every time I worked with [Chip Esten aka Deacon Claybourne] we just both kind of would look at each other with these sad, puppy-dog faces. And then I’d be like, 'I’m really sorry, babe.' It was very hard! Particularly, of course, those final episodes. And that final episode was devastating. There was no easy way around it for anybody," she said.
In Connie's final Nashville episode, Rayna struggled to recover from a devastating car crash. Following a heartbreaking, imaginary conversation with her dead mother, Rayna succumbed to her injuries and passed away surrounded by her family and friends.
Connie as Rayna on Season 3 of Nashville. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
After the emotional episode's airing on Thursday, Feb. 23, Connie took to Instagram to pay tribute to Nashville and her beloved character on the show. "Thank you, Rayna Jaymes. For your magic and your dignity. And thank you to all the creators of Rayna Jaymes, for there were many. And then, of course, the crew of Nashville who brought her to life, every crew member in every department who made Rayna live each week," she wrote.
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"But finally and most importantly, the fans. You made Rayna. You supported her and loved her and gave her inspiration just as she was able to inspire you. You were the energy source, the power behind her heart and soul and life. Rayna lived for you," Connie continued.
"And, from the depths of my heart, I thank you, for her and for me. It has been an honor to be a part of that creation. And as I know she would want it, the show must, and will go on. Long live Rayna Jaymes," she concluded.
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