Nashville's Charles Esten on the Line in Deacon's Cancer Arc That Nearly Did Him in (Hint: Rayna Said It)

Nashville Deacon Dying Season 3 Finale Preview Charles Esten

Nearly every night for the last week or so, Nashville‘s Charles Esten has tuned his guitar, stepped into the spotlight and lived the dream.

As part of the ABC series’ second live tour, which kicked off April 29 in New York, the actor performs several of his own compositions — some of which happen also to be Deacon’s. For a longtime songwriter who only recently has had tunes embraced by the public, watching people sing along with his lyrics is a heady thing, he says.

“It’s been one of the highlights this year for me to get to do “I Know How to Love You Now,” that I got to write with Deana Carter,” Esten tells TVLine during a brief break the afternoon of the tour’s first show. (Viewers will remember that Esten sang the song live during Nashville‘s Season 3 premiere.) “It speaks to the character so well, and to what Deacon’s been through, so to get to sing that one live is a joy every single time.”

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He adds: “I find it means a lot to some of our viewers, that song. I guess it’s, in some cases, the song that a lot of women would like to hear guys sing.” He laughs. “It’s basically a ‘I know, I get it now, I finally get it’ [song], and who doesn’t want to hear that?”

What Rayna-Deacon fans may not want to hear is that the end of the season finds Mr. Claybourne in serious danger of not getting a donor liver in time to save his life. In advance of tonight’s episode (10/9c), read on to hear Esten’s prognosis on his character’s future.

TVLINE | Deacon’s not doing so well. How are his spirits in these last couple of episodes, given that he’s had his hopes dashed at least once?
Well, besides being great drama for our show, the unfortunate aspect of that is that it’s real life for people on that list. It’s not just like you order up a liver, and you know, it’s here. There’s not an app for that kind of thing… I’m glad that we’re showing the ups and downs of it and the hardness of it.

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TVLINE | Some of our readers are clamoring to see Deacon officially move into Rayna’s house. Will they get their wish?
I don’t believe that there’s ever like a scene of that. I think it became like a gradual thing, and when it happens it’s — boy, you thought it was interesting combining Avery and Juliette’s lives, because their sensibilities are very different? There’s a lot of that with Deacon, too. He hasn’t sold the house yet, but he’s definitely in there where he should be with Rayna. So no, we haven’t seen some of those moving scenes… We have a scene in Rayna’s in-house recording studio there in her house, and you can see Deacon’s guitars all around the room. So, yeah, it’s happening gradually.

TVLINE | Any hint on whether Deacon will have another potential donor by the end of the season?
That is definitely what we’re looking for, to see who’s going to be able to step up, be a match and save his life.

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TVLINE | How much of Deacon’s decision to get back together with Rayna, do you think, was driven by the fact that he may not have much time left?
The point you’re making is there wasn’t time to waste is well taken, but I also think that even without [being sick], he would have jumped right back into that relationship. He was begging her. You know, he said, “Marry me, not him. Marry me,” and then I understood why the writers had it that he would want to protect her [by not telling her]. It’s like, “No, not now. Why now?” Having said that, first of all, the way Connie [Britton] delivered those lines, it was convincing. [Laughs] She was right, is what he realized. The line that moved me the most was, “You can’t protect us from this.” …It actually got me in that moment, when she said that… I think the reason he comes around is she’s right, again and again.

TVLINE | Chip Esten: Saying things ladies like to hear since way back when.
[Laughs] I run into that in my own house! [Laughs]

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  1. Bella says:

    I am so totally in love with Rayna and Deacon, and with this interview. Chip’s chemistry with Connie is off the charts, and absolutely convincing. Seeing them with a storyline where they get to really flex their acting chops is so wonderful – they’re both exquisite actors, and they nail everything they’re given, but this painful desperation they both feel to save his life and finally be able to be happy together is just so tangible. My favourite TV couple of all time.

  2. Cole says:

    I honestly believe that Maddie will be a match for Deacon and she will be his only option for a transplant…

    • RUCookie says:

      But Rayna said Maddie was too young when she was begging Deacon’s sister. That to me said that that storyline was shot… Sad, cuz I too was betting it would be Maddie.

  3. Foxycz says:

    Such a great interview! Can’t wait to watch those last episodes. Lets just hope there will be another season, this show is really addictive with all the humbled and talented cast & crew, not to mention the amazing songs and music!

  4. RZ says:

    Nice to see that “Chip” Esten has had so much success on Nashville. But I’d love it if he could appear on one or two “Whose Line is it Anyway?” episodes. He was really good at the improv games.

  5. Maria says:

    I am betting Gunner gives him a liver :). And then Scarlett will take him back. Or something like that.

    • Anna says:

      That’s what I thought and there was a photo of Gunnar in the finale pics, so kinda think he might be the donor. Chip is so amazing!

  6. EdTV says:

    I have a half-baked theory that something happens to Teddy, either in his attempt to flee from the cops or getting arrested, and somehow this leads to him being the donor.

  7. Violet says:

    I kept wanting to scream at the screen that Maddie is his daughter and might be a match, and no one on the show has even broached the subject. Yeah, I know maybe they want to “protect” her from the risk, but if they don’t try that, when she gets older, if Deacon dies, she will realize she might have been a match and was not advised, and be very angry.

    • Kat says:

      It was adressed though, because Rayna said last episode that Maddie is too young to donate, and she is… she’s what? 15? 16? Definitely too young, that wouldn’t be legal.

  8. Boiler says:

    I thought it might be Maddie too until the age restriction. I think his sister will finally step up.

  9. Elissa says:

    If you read spoilers, you know who the donor is supposed to be…The real question is, will Deacon’s life be hanging in the balance at the end of finale??! Cuz I have a feeling that is where this is going, and that would make for a VERY long summer :( Chip & Connie are AMAZING, they blow me away every week.

    • Marilyn Young says:

      I’m not liking the previews for the finale. Please do not take Deacon out of the show. I dislike being drug in then wham they are gone

      • Miranda says:

        My money’s on his sister dying, after those previews.

      • Looch says:

        Agree.. If they take Deacon out of the show they will lose a ton of viewers…
        Including me!!! I love this couple and their relationship is beautiful :)

  10. Television Watcher says:

    Reblogged this on The Television Watcher.

  11. M L Schultz says:

    Please, please do not let Decan die and Please please do not cancel the show. It is a real show not one of those stupid reality shows.

  12. mae hicks says:

    Wednesday night is finally fun to watch on TV with Nashville. Please don’t cancel this show.

  13. Barbara says:

    Come on now..the whole world knows that Deacon and Rayna carry’s this show Nashville ..and if he die’s I’m gone and so is a lot of other people..Nashville is the best thing that has ever happened to T.V and Rayna and Deacon are the best thing that has ever happened to Nashville …but of course got to keep the public wondering all summer …PLEASE … DEACON CAN’T DIE ..He And Rayna are the main players….. Deacon Dies..Nashville Dies

  14. rhonda says:

    No do not take deacon off the show please if he leaves I will not watch it anymore

    • Barbara says:

      I am with you all the way Rhonda…….. No DEACON and RAYNA … NO NASHVILLE !!! I “”WILL”” STOP WATCHING IT

      • Barbara says:


  15. Helen Schau says:

    I love Nashville and please ABC keep it going