“Nashville” viewers bid a sad and shocking farewell to Rayna James (Connie Britton), whose life tragically ended in a hospital in the Thursday, Feb. 23 episode following her car accident the previous week.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Britton discusses her exit from the series, revealing that the decision to leave came from her.
“It was my decision,” she tells THR. “It was something that, for various reasons, had been percolating for me. What was really important to me was that it felt like the right time. This summer, when the show went to CMT, it felt solid and stable. When [co-showrunner] Marshall [Herskovitz] came in, we had a conversation and he came up with the way this story would lay out. We both agreed — and I said to him that what was most important to me was that we really do justice and honour the character and all of these characters and the world that we’ve been living in for these last five years.”
Britton notes that “a lot of different factors” played into her decision to leave. “It was a cumulative thing,” she adds. “I don’t need to go into great detail about what that was but for me, it felt like the timing was important and my #1 priority was the show and making sure that it was done in the right way.”
While fans who watched the episode were understandably shattered, Britton admits that’s pretty much how she felt filming her final scenes. “It was incredibly emotional. It was very difficult for me and it still is,” she says.
“It’s hard for me to talk about without getting a little choked up [pauses] … because I love this character so much and the people I’ve been fortunate to act with for the last five years and our crew,” she adds. “This has become an essential part of my life. It was really tough doing those last couple weeks especially. Those scenes were so emotional. Toward the last couple days, which is when we shot the really intense scenes in the ICU and the one where Rayna actually dies, nobody could get through them without crying. Saying goodbye is really hard.”
After the episode aired, Britton shared a touching post on Instagram, thanking everyone involved in her “Nashville” experience.
“Thank you Rayna Jaymes. For your magic and your dignity,” writes Britton. “It has been an honour to be a part of that creation. And as I know she would want it, the show must, and will go on. Long live Rayna Jaymes.”
“Nashville” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on W Network.
Thank you Rayna Jaymes. For your magic and your dignity. And thank you to all the creators of Rayna Jaymes, for there were many. Callie Khouri, who gave her life. Deacon, Maddie, Daphne, who shaped her as her family. Teddy, Tandy, Lamar too. Juliette, Scarlett, Bucky and the ones who crafted her into a business woman. Along with countless other compatriots and combatants. And then of course the crew of “Nashville" who brought her to life, every crew member in every department who made Rayna live each week. And then there’s the music. T Bone, Buddy, Tim, Frankie and all the brilliant songwriters who gave Rayna a voice. There was no music, and no Rayna, without you. But finally and most importantly, the fans. You made Rayna. You supported her and loved her and gave her inspiration just as she was able to inspire you. You were the energy source, the power behind her heart and soul and life. Rayna lived for you. And, from the depths of my heart, I thank you, for her and for me. It has been an honor to be a part of that creation. And as I know she would want it, the show must, and will go on. Long live Rayna Jaymes. #RIPRayna #NashvilleCMT