Whatever Happened To The Cast Of Nashville?

Making its debut on ABC in 2012, "Nashville" told the story of the rivalry between two of country music's top stars, the reigning queen of country Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) and young upstart Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). Juliette's rising popularity threatens to dislodge Rayna from the perch upon which she's ruled for two decades.

For six seasons (the final two airing on CMT after ABC canceled the show following Season 4), viewers watched as "Nashville" evolved into a sprawling, soapy epic set within the epicenter of country music. The show introduced viewers to a large, fascinating group of characters played by an immensely talented ensemble cast, many of whom did double duty as both actors and singers. 

Sadly for fans, the show ended for good in 2018 (per USA Today), sending its actors on to various other projects — some returning to television, some switching to other mediums entirely. Let's take a closer look at what happened to the cast of "Nashville." 

Hayden Panettiere conquered her addiction to alcohol and opioids

After six seasons playing country music star Juliette Barnes on "Nashville," Hayden Panettiere faced a dry spell. As her IMDb profile shows, she didn't appear in any film or television projects for several years after the series concluded (although she will be seen in the horror sequel "Scream 6," slated for release in 2023). 

In 2018, E! News reported that Panettiere broke up with her longtime fiancé, Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko, with whom she shares a daughter, Kaya. Following the split, she began dating Brian Hickerson, a relationship that made headlines in May 2019 when TMZ reported he was arrested after an alleged violent incident with Panettiere. The following February, Hickerson was arrested again, with Entertainment Tonight reporting that he allegedly hit her "with a closed fist on the right side of her face." 

As Panettiere subsequently told People in a 2022 interview, during those years, she'd become addicted to booze and opiates, which she characterized as "a cycle of self-destruction." Panettiere eventually sought help, and after eight months at a rehab facility, she was sober. "I'm just so grateful to be part of this world again," she told People, "and I will never take it for granted again."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Connie Britton starred in Dirty John and The White Lotus

Prior to her 2017 exit from the show, Connie Britton starred in "Nashville" as country singer Rayna Jaymes. Since then, Britton has remained one of Hollywood's busiest actors. Her post-"Nashville" projects have included the film "The Land of Steady Habits" and "Dirty John," a true crime series based on the hit podcast. She followed those with roles in Showtime's "SMILF," the movies "Bombshell" and "Promising Young Woman," and then the Fox series "9-1-1." 

In 2021, Britton was part of the ensemble cast of the critically acclaimed HBO comedy series "The White Lotus," playing a relentlessly driven corporate CEO vacationing with her dysfunctional family in a posh Hawaiian resort. "All she wants is to be this type-A, super successful at everything woman, and yet all she really wants is for her dude to sweep her off her feet and take care of her," Britton told Collider of the role, which earned her an Emmy nomination. "I actually think that's a fairly authentic conflict for hyper-successful women in the world."

As Entertainment Weekly reported, in early 2022, Britton signed on to star in "Dear Edward," a new series for Apple TV+ based on the bestselling novel. 

Charles Esten continued to pursue acting and music

Charles Esten became a "Nashville" fan favorite for his portrayal of country singer Deacon Claybourne, a role that allowed him to showcase both his acting talent and musical abilities. Since the series' end, Esten has continued his dual roles as actor and musician, with IMDb listing such screen credits as the 2019 TV movie "Tell Me a Story" and the 2021 series "Tell Me Your Secrets." Meanwhile, as his website indicates, Esten has continued to release new music, including the live track "Sanctuary" (in which he's joined by musical trio The Adelaides) and the single "Worst Day," a collab with singer Julia Cole.  

Esten's highest-profile post-"Nashville" role was Ward Cameron on the Netflix hit "Outer Banks," who pulled a fast one on fans by faking his own death.

"What I love so much about getting to play this guy is, is he a bad guy? I don't know. You tell me," Esten told Entertainment Tonight of his "Outer Banks" character. "But so much of it is not just a mustache-twirling, 'I'm a bad guy,' but a guy that just got in a situation and went through a maybe wrong direction and then had the cover for that, and it just keeps pushing his chips in."

Clare Bowen formed a musical duo with her husband

Australian actor Clare Bowen was known to "Nashville" viewers as singer Scarlett O'Connor. Since the series' end in 2018, IMDb lists just three credits for her: narrating the 2019 short "Let It Rain," acting in the 2020 TV miniseries "Hungry Ghosts," and appearing in the 2021 made-for-TV movie "Sand Dollar Cove."

While Bowen has been keeping a hand in acting, the past few years have found her far more focused on her music career as part of a duo alongside her husband, Brandon Robert Young. As she recounted on her website, Bowen and Young opened for Sugarland on the band's "Still the Same Tour" in 2018. That same year, she released her self-titled debut album. 

As Bowen told Songwriting magazine, she's eternally grateful for the showcase that "Nashville" gave her as a singer-songwriter. "That's been a huge blessing," she said, adding that fans who only know her from the TV show and then watch her perform live will see another side of her. "My live shows are definitely different to the 'Nashville' shows," she said. "They give me room to stretch out and really get into the stories, and it's also just a big love party where everyone ends up dancing."

In 2021, Music Row reported that Bowen and Young had booked a brief tour, playing at City Winery locations in six different cities.

Jonathan Jackson's Orthodox faith inspired books and music

After concluding his run as Avery Barkley on "Nashville," Jonathan Jackson's IMDb profile doesn't feature a single screen credit for the former "General Hospital" star. As Soap Opera Digest reported, Jackson said he'd be open to reprising his "GH" role, although the biggest hurdle was the fact that he was living in Ireland. During the period after "Nashville" wrapped, noted the outlet, Jackson wrote a book titled "The Harrowing of Hell," focusing on Christ descending to hell during the period between crucifixion and resurrection. Jackson, who described the book as "an epic poem," was raising money to fund its publication via Indiegogo.

Jackson may not have been acting on camera, but he continued to follow his musical muse, resulting in the July 2022 release of his album "Ultraviolet Empire," a collaboration with indie rockers Enation.

Both the book and the album reflect Jackson's embrace of the Romanian Orthodox Church. In an interview with TRINITAS, the Television of the Romanian Patriarchate (as reported by Orthodox magazine Pravmir), Jackson revealed that his journey to Orthodoxy began when he was in Romania for an acting job and witnessed a crowd of believers marching in a procession while chanting, "Christ is risen." That "planted the seeds" for further religious exploration that led him to undergo a Romanian Orthodox baptism in 2012. "Becoming Orthodox, for me was not choosing a preference," he explained. "It was actually challenging my preferences."

Sam Palladio found success in Netflix's Princess Switch franchise

Following his six-season run playing singer-songwriter Gunnar Scott on "Nashville," Sam Palladio next appeared alongside Dame Helen Mirren in HBO's historical miniseries "Catherine the Great," and then starred opposite Katey Sagal in the 2021 ABC series "Rebel," noted his IMDb credits.

However, Palladio's most notable post-"Nashville" role was as Prince Edward of Belgravia in the Netflix holiday rom-com "The Princess Switch," in which Vanessa Hudgens played the dual roles of Duchess Margaret Delacourt and her doppelgänger commoner Stacy De Novo, who temporarily swap lives. The movie proved to be a big hit for the streamer, resulting in two sequels, 2020's "The Princess Switch: Switched Again" and 2021's "The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star."  

In the second film, Hudgens added a third character to the mix, Margaret's wicked lookalike twin, Fiona. As Palladio admitted in an interview with Us Weekly, it was no small feat to keep track of which version of his co-star he was supposed to be interacting with. "And of course, we were doing green screen stuff as well and split screens and, oh, you're looking at, like, a tennis ball on the end of a piece of metal. It was like, 'okay, this tennis ball is Fiona? This stunt double here, that's Margaret? Okay, got it.' It was a lot of fun!" he shared.

Lennon and Maisy Stella continued following their musical dreams

Real-life sisters Lennon and Maisy Stella portrayed siblings Maddie and Daphne Conrad on "Nashville," daughters of Connie Britton's Rayna Jaymes. Both during and after the show, the two demonstrated their musical abilities as a vocal duo. Their talent was evident when they recorded their own cover version of Coldplay's "Up and Up," telling People they loved the "really cool message" within the song. "It's all about coming together to make a difference," they said.

After several years as a duo (their numerous musical collaborations can be seen on their YouTube channel), Lennon went her own way to pursue a solo career, signing with Columbia Records. In 2018, she released her solo debut, the five-song EP "Love, me." In March 2020, she took to Instagram to announce that her first full-length LP would be released the following month. Meanwhile, Maisy also continued to pursue her own musical ambitions, contributing the original song "Riding Free" to the soundtrack of the 2017 Netflix animated series "Spirit Riding Free," per Entertainment Tonight.

Even amid their respective solo successes, the sisters continue to collaborate musically. In 2021, their joint single "While You Sleep" was featured in the HBO Max feature film "The Fallout." In a message she shared on Instagram, Maisy said the film is "verrrry dear to me," noting that she was "so grateful and so honored" that their music was a part of it.

Chris Carmack became a series regular on Grey's Anatomy

Known to "Nashville" fans as gay country singer Will Lexington on "Nashville," Chris Carmack wasted no time landing his next role as orthopedic surgeon Dr. Atticus Lincoln (nicknamed "Ortho God") on "Grey's Anatomy." Speaking with Entertainment Tonight, Carmack discussed returning to film the show after several months of a pandemic-related production shutdown. "[Being on set] involves testing and COVID procedures and distancing while we're filming, and kind of coming up with new and creative angles to film things," Carmack explained. "But I haven't had to make out with a mannequin yet," he joked.

Meanwhile, Carmack wasn't entirely idle during the "Grey's" production shutdown. In October 2020, he revealed that he and wife Erin Slaver had formed a musical duo, calling themselves Life on Eris, and announced the upcoming release of their first EP, "Stonewall." 

Carmack described the EP's debut single, "Skipping Church," as "an intimate portrayal of the psychology of a married couple" (per ET). According to Slaver, the couple's intent with the song was "to give people something that was a real look into a marriage, a relationship, something they can relate to." Speaking with Celebrity Page about their subsequent single, "The Risk," Carmack revealed that they'd produced the EP themselves. "With 'The Risk,' not only did we self-produce, but we recorded everything ourselves in our home studio here in Los Angeles," he said.

David Alford's play was produced off-Broadway

David Alford played Bucky Dawes, Rayna Jaymes' manager, in six seasons of "Nashville." His subsequent screen credits were somewhat skimpy, consisting of a voiceover role in the video game "Red Dead Redemption II" and two episodes of the streaming series "The Good Fight." 

While Alford may not have maintained much of a screen presence during that time, he was active onstage. As Broadway World noted, after making his Broadway debut in a 2017 production of "Little Foxes," a play that he wrote, "Ghostlight," premiered in early 2022 for a limited off-Broadway run. Described as "part mystery, part ghost story, part love story, and total philosophical discourse," "Ghostlight" is set within an abandoned theater, where two actors wait for a director to arrive. While the production may have been new, the play actually wasn't — in fact, it predated "Nashville." As Nashville Scene reported, "Ghostlight" was first mounted in 2004 by Nashville's Mockingbird Theater, where Alford served as artistic director. 

As his website points out, Alford is also the author of the 2017 book "Living the Dream: The Morning After Drama School."

Ed Amatrudo ventured into movie producing

Ed Amatrudo was known for his "Nashville" role of Glenn Goodman, the manager of Hayden Panettiere's character, Juliette Barnes. Since the show's end, Amatrudo has kept extremely busy as an actor. According to IMDb, he has appeared in a variety of TV series, including "The Resident," "Dolly Parton's Heartstrings," "The Right Stuff," "The First Lady," and "Stranger Things."

Other post-"Nashville" acting credits include the Ron Howard-directed Netflix movie "Hillbilly Elegy," the feature "The Secrets We Keep," and the faith-based musical "A Week Away." In the last of those, Amatrudo played the officer overseeing the case of a teenage boy who runs afoul of the law and is presented with the choice of either entering a juvenile detention facility or attending a Christian summer camp, and chooses the latter.

Beyond acting, Amatrudo has also ventured into roles behind the scenes, producing the short film "Faceless" and the 2020 feature "Best Laid Plans." 

Eric Close starred in a movie that held deep meaning for him

Known to fans of "Nashville" as Teddy Conrad, the ex-husband of Rayna Jaymes, Eric Close continued acting after the series ended its run. In addition to starring in the films "Legal Action" and "Indivisible," noted IMDb, Close also appeared in a pair of made-for-TV holiday movies in 2019: "A Christmas Love Story" and "Angel Falls: A Novel Holiday." 

In 2022, Close starred in the faith-based feature film "The Mulligan," playing a man who receives some life-changing wisdom from an elderly golf pro, played by Pat Boone.

Speaking with The List, Close recalled that he "jumped at the opportunity" after reading the script. According to Close, the film's themes of "hope, redemption, forgiveness, [and] second chances" were ones that "resonated with me because I think it's so important, [along with] the element of having it revolve around the game of golf," which he described as "one of my great passions in life."

Will Chase earned more screen credits and returned to Broadway

Will Chase appeared in 57 episodes as country star Luke Wheeler on "Nashville." When the series wrapped, Will Chase added to his already impressive roster of screen credits by appearing in such TV series as "Stranger Things," "American Crime Story," "Dopesick," "Impulse," and the HBO miniseries "Sharp Objects," to highlight just a few. In addition to all that television work, he also returned to his first love, the stage, starring in a 2019 revival of the Shakespeare-inspired musical "Kiss Me, Kate." 

In fact, fans who primarily know Chase from "Nashville" may not be aware of his extensive Broadway career, which includes a 2013 Tony nomination for his role in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood." As Broadway.com noted, his other Broadway credits include "Something Rotten," "Billy Elliott, "Aida," "The Full Monty," "Miss Saigon," "Kiss of the Spider Woman," and "Rent," in which he originated the role of aspiring rock star Roger.