Wednesday night marks the premiere of the third season of ABC’s drama Nashville, and the stakes couldn’t be any higher for some of the shows most beloved (or despised) characters.
To sum up: Viewers should learn at least a little bit more about which way country queen Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) will go when it comes to the two men in her life. Having said yes to the onstage proposal from Luke Wheeler (Will Chase), Rayna is then blindsided by her former love Deacon Claybourne (Chip Esten), who assures her he is better equipped to love her now than he was in the past. Meanwhile, Avery (Jonathan Jackson) has been betrayed by Juliette (Hayden Panettiere), who had a fling with Jeff (Oliver Hudson). Panettiere’s real-life pregnancy will impact Season Three as a “who’s the daddy” drama ensues.
The characters of Zoey (Chaley Rose) and Gunnar (Sam Palladio) are also experiencing life-changing events of their own. Rolling Stone Country spoke to both of them, along with Jonathan Jackson, backstage at the Grand Ole Opry this week to find out what the season premiere and the weeks ahead have in store for the series.
“The end of Season Two left a lot of relationships open,” says Jackson, after performing a pair of songs on the Opry stage. “We open up just smack in the middle of that drama. My character, Avery, is reeling, spiraling a little bit from the news of Juliette’s betrayal. And Scarlett [played by Clare Bowen] was leaving town, which is a big deal. So everyone’s in a little bit of a crisis.”
Born in Britain but now living in Music City, Palladio was also performing during Tuesday night’s Opry show, marking his 15th time on the legendary stage. He praises Nashville’s “melting pot” of musical styles and explained that while he grew up being exposed to more folk and rock, he’s now “very aware of country music.” In terms of his character’s arc for the new season, Palladio says that thanks to Gunnar’s songwriting success, the tunesmith has “come into some wealth at the end of last season and he’s getting a bit more stable. I think he’s feeling in a good place right now.”
That could all change for the tall Texan, however, with the arrival of Gunnar’s ex-girlfriend, Kylie, played by singer-actress Alexa PenaVega, who “turns up in town and sort of throws things into chaos. I think viewers are going to be very excited when [she] comes back. It opens up a lot of Gunnar’s past and brings up a lot of emotion in connection to his family and the loss he’s had there, through losing his brother,” Palladio says. “So we start to see some heart to Gunnar and some of his fragility.”