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“Nashville” star Charles Esten hopes fans find healing in his portrayal of grief Sanford Myers/Invision/AP
Charles Esten arrives at the CMT Music Awards at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, June 10, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Sanford Myers/Invision/AP)

Nothing makes a great actor rise to the occasion better than a wrenching storyline. Charles Esten, star of CMT’s “Nashville,” has been proving that throughout the show’s fifth season as his character, Deacon Claybourne, grappled first with a stalker menacing his wife, Rayna Jaymes, and then Rayna’s subsequent car crash, hospitalization and shocking death. That storyline was created because of star Connie Britton’s desire to leave the show after playing Rayna for four-and-a-half seasons.

RELATED: Find out how “Nashville” is carrying on without Rayna Jaymes

Charles’ poignant portrayal of anger and grief has been breaking our hearts. And while he’s certainly not happy about Connie’s departure, Charles says he and the rest of the cast are making the best of it, while also trying to provide some healing and comfort to others as their characters go through the mourning process.

“I know how painful it is,” he tells Rare Country. “Nobody likes the fact that she’s not on the show anymore, but all we could do at that point was try to do the very best we could with that and try to honor how it would go.

RELATED: “Nashville” tore our hearts out and broke them into a million pieces

“‘Nashville’ from the very beginning has dealt with those things that are difficult for people, whether it’s addiction or sickness or other issues,” he continues. “Again and again people come up to us and say, ‘I’ve been there.’ Losing the love of your life — your spouse — there’s so many people that, unfortunately, have been there. If it can in any way be cathartic or helpful to process stuff, or just move people a little bit, that’s all we’re trying for.

“They’re hard scenes,” he adds, “but in the end we were just doing our best.”

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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