It's looking like the Season Two finale of Nashville will mirror the lyrics of a quintessential country song: someone's lyin', someone's breakin' up, and someone's gettin' stinkin' drunk. Rolling Stone was invited to the downtown Nashville set of the May 14 episode, which we're told will end in cliffhangers for most all of the main characters. We spent time in between scenes tempting the actors to spill secrets about the finale (which airs at 10:00 PM ET on ABC). In doing so, we learned a little bit about the episode and a lot about its multi-talented cast.
In the season finale, Juliette Barnes gets hammered and screws things up … again.
“I've never been drunk before. It's shocking!” Hayden Panettiere says sarcastically, accepting a compliment on her acting in a scene where her character is three sheets to the wind. The petite powerhouse explains that viewers will feel sad for Juliette at the end of this season, as "she has messed up the best thing she's ever had going for her." So long, Avery. Hello, Jack (or Jim, or Jose).
Some songs will be recycled in a different light.
Musical performances on the Season Two finale take place in two very different settings: at church and at LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. The characters of Deacon, Zoey, Avery and Gunnar perform in a church sanctuary at a benefit for a substance abuse treatment program. Then, several characters take the stage at the almost 68,000-seat stadium to perform a few tunes we've already heard on the show, but never with as many bells and whistles. "They've got a whole light show set up," explains Connie Britton. "LP Field is such a staple of Nashville, it's exciting to perform the songs in that context."
Rayna's torn between two (singing) lovers.
Britton hints that her character’s storyline ends with a victory in her professional life but a fork in the rocky road that is her personal life. All we can tell you for Season Three is that she's likely not getting back together with ex-husband (and current Mayor of Nashville), Teddy. "I think it would be really fun next season to see her actually in a relationship that felt like a Faith Hill-Tim McGraw situation," says the actress. "There's a lot of fun to be had with that, whomever that relationship might be with!"
The guy who plays Juliette's bodyguard, Bo, did two tours in Iraq.
Melvin Kearney became a motivational speaker after returning from his second tour of combat, during which he lost five friends. He was speaking to wounded warriors in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, when an audience member asked him if he's ever acted. "I act a fool in front of my family," Kearney joked in response. But the woman convinced him to audition for Nashville and – given his lack of acting experience – he swears it was his smile that scored him the gig. "I used to take my mom to chemotherapy," he recalls of his late mother, "and she'd say, 'Baby, you can choose to never have a bad day again. You can't control your circumstances, but you can control your attitude.'"
Jeff Fordham might not be a total jackass.
So far, Oliver Hudson’s character has only shown his dark side – which is unusual writing for Callie Khouri, whose fictional villains tend to reveal their softer sides every now and then. But Hudson was just billed as a "special guest" in Season Two, whereas he will become a series regular in Season Three. “I hope we'll get to know why he is who he is. No one is this bad. For those who are, there has to be a reason," the actor says of Jeff.
Will Lexington is quite fond of his closet, thank you very much.
Chris Carmack insists his character will never come out willingly, as he is stuck in the old-school ways of thinking that no openly gay singer can make it in country music. Still, Will's Season Two ending is what Carmack insists is the biggest "gasp moment" of the finale. Does someone else drag him out? Or perhaps his beard is growing a bump?
Clare Bowen (Scarlett O'Connor) owes a few people an "I told you so."
"I'm a classically trained singer," explains the Australian beauty, "but I didn't sing for several years because people told me that I couldn't. I had accepted that [singing] wasn't what I was supposed to do." Bowen has some of the most memorable songs on the Nashville soundtracks – including the first tune written specifically for the show, "Black Roses" - and is currently working on her debut album.
Jonathan Jackson and Sam Palladio wanted to sing in each other's shoes.
While Jackson initially auditioned for the role of Gunnar Scott, Palladio auditioned for the role of Avery Barkley. Jackson's audition included the powerful renditions of a few U2 songs, which Khouri says sealed his deal.
Watching Nashville can double as a weekly guitar lesson.
Yes, it's really the actors singing (and without Auto-Tune, they swear), and adding to the authenticity of the show is the fact that they're also really playing guitar. Their music teachers are the veteran Nashville musicians who play in the characters' bands, and those teachers are adamant that the actors perfectly match each lick to the track, exactly as it was recorded. "A lot of times, we'll be on stage and turn around and ask, 'How do you do this?'" says Carmack. "Colin [Linden, lead guitarist in Deacon's band] will sit down with us and go over all the guitar parts, note by note. I'll learn the song by ear and show up, and he'll go, 'No, that's not how we tuned the guitar on this one.'"
Connie Britton could've killed Nashville.
Callie Khouri admits to breaking her own rules when crafting the Nashville pilot episode. She usually never writes with an actor or actress in mind, but a vision of Connie Britton playing Rayna got her out of a major writing slump. "I really could not position anyone else in the role," Khouri recalls. "They kept asking, 'Who else do you see, in case we can’t get Connie Britton?' And I was like, 'I don’t see why we would even do it.'"