One of TV’s favorite questions takes on new meaning in Wednesday’s Nashville, which finds up-and-coming country star Will Lexington engaged to labelmate Layla Grant in a last-ditch effort to convince everyone he’s straight.
Is the mismatched couple seriously considering going through with a wedding? And will that even matter if someone from Will’s past comes forward to out him? Star Chris Carmack recently addressed his conflicted character’s quandry — and more — in a talk with TVLine.
TVLINE | Will and Layla come into this week’s episode (ABC, Wednesday at 10/9c) getting ready to get married. How much of it are you playing that Will is deluding himself, and how much are you playing it that he’s just doing what he has to do to have the career that he wants?
I honestly believe that he is deluding himself immensely. The career aspect of it is probably one of the biggest reasons he’s deluding himself… But I don’t think we could even remotely like Will if there wasn’t some degree of self-delusion, because what he’s clearly gonna do to this young girl, it’s gonna break her heart – or he’s gonna end up on the tracks again. He can’t live a lie for the rest of his life. It’s ridiculous.
In terms of the self-delusion, I think when he was younger and he was exploring his sexuality, it was natural and exciting – as it is for anybody when they’re young. But he got thrown out of his house. He got distanced from his family. There were a lot of repercussions. He probably grew up in a house where – and forgive my language – but the term “faggot” was probably thrown around. I think he grew up in a place where it was dangerous to be this. And so he turned it off. He shut it down and he’s repressed it. And that’s where all of this delusion is coming from, that’s where this self-denial is coming from.
TVLINE | It sounds like you think even if he weren’t in the industry, he would still find it very difficult to be honest with himself about who he is.
I think it would still be a struggle for him. I do not think it would be to the extent that it is [now]. Here he is, he met Brent in Austin and they had a fling. So clearly he was not completely shut off to that side of himself, to the exploration of his sexuality and the discovery of it. But I think now that the wolves are at the door, there is no question that he does not want to be discovered. So he’s basically trying to live a lie – not just construct a lie, but live that lie.
TVLINE | We keep hearing about Will’s buddy from Texas, the scripts have alluded to other people who are going to come forward. Can you tease anything?
I can’t really comment on that. Let’s just say that’s probably a recurrent theme that’s going to continue for Will. He’s scared to death of somebody coming out of the blue and outing him.
TVLINE | What are his feelings about Brent? Are there any romantic/lustful feelings that linger, or is that all in the past and now’s he’s just freaked out by him being around?
Brent strikes me – and it’s television, so you never know when somebody’s going to come back or what’s going to happen – so I can’t comment on the future of Will and Brent but I can comment on the present: I’m sure anybody can relate to the uncomfortable situation of being around an ex-lover where things are not resolved. It takes a good year-and-a-half before you can start hanging out with an ex-girlfriend again, you know, and it be cool and there aren’t mix feelings or jealousy. And Brent and Will have not had that time to process things.
TVLINE | Gunnar has some definite thoughts — which he makes known — about Will’s decisions in this week’s episode.
Gunnar starts to understand that the noose tightening around Will’s neck is very real and very threatening, and could derail his entire dream and his entire life in a way that would be very dangerous for someone who was, two months ago, on the tracks and talking about suicide. So Gunnar has to weigh what’s best for his buddy. Marrying Layla is clearly not the right choice, but who knows? Maybe it’s the lesser of two evils. I don’t know. He’s clearly got a conflict about that.
You also see Will not being honest with Gunnar. But I think whenever Will’s not honest with Gunnar, he’s not being honest with himself. That’s a good delineation: What Will tells Gunnar is the truth that Will believes. And what Will tells anybody else is anybody’s guess. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Let’s end on a happy note for your character: In this episode, he gets to perform a trio with Luke Wheeler and Deacon Claybourne.
Yeah. That was a blast. I haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t know how it turned out, but I know we had a lot of fun filming it.
TVLINE | You make Will light up when he’s on stage. It seems like maybe the only place he’s 100 percent happy and himself.
And that’s why he knows he wants to be a country singer, because it is the only place he is completely himself – his best self – and completely alive. The problem is, everybody has to come off the stage. [Laugh] Insome ways, he’s sacrificing everything off stage to be on stage. And that’s a choice that pretty much every performer I know has had to make at some point or another… That’s really where I connect with Will the most personally, the aspect of making personal sacrifices to follow a dream, understanding that side of him.