Why Connie Britton Quit ‘Nashville’ & Left Her Co-Stars ‘Terrified’

Connie Britton’s former Nashville co-stars are opening up about her decision to quit the show and revealing why her departure has left them “terrified” to continue on without her.

After fans saw Connie’s much-loved Nashville character Rayna Jaymes die after a dramatic car accident in the February 23 episode of the country music drama, viewers have been questioning why Britton decided to leave the show so soon after it was announced that CMT would be airing new episodes following ABC’s cancelation.

Britton lays it out herself in an interview with TVLine.

“It was something that had been percolating over time, and there were lots of different reasons behind it.

Some of them were personal… It was just the right timing.”

Her former co-star Hayden Panettiere revealed that she’s “terrified” to continue on with the country music drama without her long time co-star.

“I felt like, ‘Oh, my gosh! We’re all going to have to carry this show without her,'” Panettiere said during a recent interview with Access Hollywood of how she reacted to the news that Connie was leaving Nashville after five years, shortly before it was confirmed that Britton decided to quit the show and killing off Rayna was not a sudden decision made by producers.

“That’s a really overwhelming idea,” Hayden, who plays Rayna’s sometimes friend, sometimes enemy Juliette Barnes on the CMT series, continued of carrying on with Nashville without Connie, adding that she’s “terrified” now that Britton has left the show for good.

Why Connie Britton quit 'Nashville' & Rayna Jaymes died

“I was terrified,” Connie’s co-star said of her decision to quit Nashville and kill off Rayna, “because she’s always been there from the beginning, and we’ve always been such a team and such a support for one another.”

Though Britton hasn’t explicitly spoken out about exactly what the “other opportunities” are that caused her to leave Panettiere and her fellow cast members and quit the show after five seasons, her Nashville co-stars were quick to rule out rumors of bad blood between the cast after seeing Rayna’s death play out on the show last month.

“We do keep in touch,” Panettiere said of where her relationship with Britton stands after she quit the show, which left producers no choice but to kill off Rayna in the heart-breaking storyline. “I hope because of this we can grow even closer,” Hayden added.

Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere’s fellow Nashville co-stars were also quick to heap praise on Britton following Rayna’s death across social media, seemingly dispelling rumors that drama between the cast could have stemmed Connie’s decision to quit the show after five seasons so soon after it was saved from cancellation.

“Connie has taught me everything I know as an actor. She has been a set mother to me since I was 8. She has been someone I look up to so much,” Maisy Stella, who alongside sister Lennon Stella played Britton’s on-screen daughters Maddie and Daphne Conrad on the show.

Connie Britton Quit 'Nashville' & her co-stars are speaking out about Rayna's death

“Thank you Connie for being such an amazing person,” the Nashville star then added following Rayna’s sudden and seriously shocking death that followed Britton’s decision to quit.

Britton’s on-screen love Charles Esten, who has played Deacon since Nashville began in 2012, also shared a sweet message for Connie on Instagram following Rayna’s heart-breaking death, putting an end to the rumors of drama.

Admitting that he was “already a fan” of Connie’s before working alongside her on Nashville, Esten told fans, “after all this time, she’s my friend. And I’m an even bigger fan.”

It’s not yet clear what other projects Britton is planning to pursue following the shocking death of Rayna Jaymes on Nashville, though The Tennessean revealed that Connie’s decision to quit came as quite a shock to Hayden and her co-stars, as well as those behind the scenes of the CMT country music drama.

The site also noted that Britton received some major backlash from Nashville fans prior to Hayden’s big confessions, claiming that a number of the drama’s most dedicated viewers angry about Rayna’s death hit back at Connie with “a sense of betrayal” after she decided to quit the series so soon after CMT brought the series back from cancellation.

What do you think of Connie Britton’s decision to quit Nashville to “pursue other opportunities?” Should she have stuck around a little longer for Nashville’s fans and her co-stars?

[Featured Image by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images]