Nashville fans were left devastated after the CMT show shockingly killed off Connie Britton’s character Rayna Jaymes last month, and now the reason for her departure has been revealed.
Despite playing Rayna on Nashville for the past five years, Connie didn’t reveal her plans to leave the country music drama before Jaymes was shocking killed off in the February 23 episode “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” though it’s now being confirmed that it was very much her decision to leave.
Though Connie is still staying pretty tight lipped about the exact reasoning behind her leaving Nashville, The Tennessean is claiming that it was in fact Britton’s decision to quit and confirmed that she was not forced out after CMT picked up Season 5 following ABC’s cancelation of the drama last year.
The site is reporting that Connie decided to quit Nashville “to pursue other opportunities,” and seemingly revealed that her decision to go so soon after the series was picked up by CMT came as a shock to those behind the scenes as well as her co-stars.
The site described Connie leaving as being a “sudden departure” as well as “a seismic event” for the cast and crew, while also revealing that Nashville’s producers had no option but to kill off Rayna following Britton’s decision.
Nashville creator and executive producer Callie Khouri spoke out to the site about the decision to show Rayna’s death following a car crash in the heart-breaking episode last month, calling the decision to kill off Rayna “painful” and “irrevocable.”
“We couldn’t come up with a plausible way that [Rayna] would simply disappear,” Callie added of why death was the only option for Rayna after five seasons as Nashville’s main cast member alongside Hayden Panettiere.
While the Nashville creator didn’t reveal how the cast and crew’s relationship with Britton is right now in the wake of her decision to quit, she did admit that Connie leaving the show has somewhat left Nashville’s cast and crew in the lurch.
“We know what we’re risking,” Khouri told The Tennessean of Connie Britton quitting Nashville, which lead to Rayna’s death. “We know how loyal the fans are. And we have exactly the same strong feelings for these characters that the audience does. I would say in my case, probably even more so.”
Nashville fans were quick to speculate prior to the confirmation that it was in fact Britton’s decision to leave, as some fans claimed that Britton did not appear to be actively attempting to have Nashville picked up by another network following ABC’s cancelation while her co-stars urged fans to get behind the show.
The Nashville’s creator’s comments and the revelation that Connie quit to “pursue other interests” also comes just days after her co-star Hayden Panettiere admitted that she’s not exactly happy with her co-star quitting the series and revealed that she’s actually “terrified” to carry on without her.
“I was terrified because she’s always been there from the beginning,” Hayden told Access Hollywood following Rayna’s shocking death last month, admitting that she and Connie had “always been such a team and such a support for one another” on the set since Nashville debuted in 2012 before Britton opted to quit the show.
“I felt like, ‘Oh, my gosh! We’re all going to have to carry this show without her,'” Panettiere added of how she and her Nashville cast mates are feeling about continuing on after Rayna’s death, adding during the interview that returning to work after Britton quit was “a really overwhelming idea.”
The Nashville star also opened up about Rayna’s death and Connie’s decision to quit the show during an appearance on the daytime talk show The Talk last week, where Hayden confessed that the whole situation surrounding Britton’s departure and Rayna’s death was “hard” for her to talk about.
“It’s hard for me to even talk about it,” Panettiere said on the show when asked about how Connie quitting and Rayna’s Nashville death affected her. “That was also the day that, you know, she’s lying in the hospital bed. Her daughters are singing this song for her, and as a mother, the idea of seeing two little girls lose their mom.”
“It’s hard for me to talk about,” Hayden continued of Connie leaving Nashville. “It really is.”
What do you think of Connie Britton quitting Nashville to “pursue other interests?”
[Featured Image by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images]