As fans still try to recover from the shock and grief that Thursday night’s (Feb. 23) episode of Nashville threw at them, showrunner Marshall Herskovitz is answering all the burning questions about Connie Britton’s exit from Nashville and what lies ahead for the series.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Herskovitz recalled the moment Britton told him she wanted out.
“I said to her what I’ve always said to actors: ‘I never want to be in a situation where I’m compelling somebody to do something they don’t want to do. If you don’t want to be on the show, let us find a way to write you out that’s dignified and true to the character,” he shared. “And she was relieved. She just wanted to go. It wasn’t about money. It was a creative need on her part to face new challenges. Which I completely understand and respect.”
He also weighed in on why Britton’s character, Rayna James, was killed off instead of simply being written out of the storyline.
“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 — Rayna would never not be in contact with Deacon and the children, unless she were being held by the Taliban or a scenario so absurd nobody would believe. 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 confessed.
Although fans are still reeling from the news, the showrunner insists the best is yet to come.
“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 Thursdays at 9/8c on CMT.