Nashville: Charles Esten Hints At Trouble Ahead For Deacon Claybourne, Talks Recovering Addict Storyline

He started out the show as the right arm of Connie Britton’s Rayna James, transitioned into the sometime-songwriting pal (and bed buddy) of Hayden Panettiere’s Juliette Barnes, and turned protector of his heartbroken niece, Scarlett (Clare Bowen), but these days on “Nashville,” Charles Esten’s Deacon Claybourne is finding his feet on his own.

But, the actor told that his axe-slinging character, currently on tour with a fictional country band made up of sober musicians, is headed for some rocky times that could challenge Deacon’s sobriety.

“There’s an episode we’ve shot already that does go to that place,” Charles hinted, when Access asked if things are about to get darker for Deacon, who already had trouble earlier this season when it came to getting rid of Jolene Barnes’ pills.

Asked if Deacon troubles will emerge while he’s on tour with the sober band – members of which have already showed signs of jealousy over the attention Deacon gets from the fans, photographers and the ladies — Charles said that storyline does help pave that path.

“I’d say that the tour leads to it. I can definitely say that,” he said.

“It’s not always just a binary thing of ‘Are you drinking?’ or ‘Are you not drinking?’… Emotionally, you can be in a really bad place, still not drinking, but not really sober, not in a place where you’re working your steps and you’re not giving over,” Charles continued. “There’s a line in there where Coleman, my sponsor, says, ‘You’re not powerless now.’ To the world, it sounds like he’s saying, ‘You have power.’ What he’s saying is — you’re not acting as though you are powerless, which you are. So when I see you start to forget that, those first steps — that I am powerless — then you’re in a place that whether you fall off the wagon or not, you’re not in a place you wanna be.”

Charles has been proud of how “Nashville” has handled his character’s storyline as a recovering addict.

“It means a lot to me. Whenever your character is playing a certain weakness like an addiction or something like that, it’s inevitable that the people that are facing that addiction, they want to hold you to a high standard of how you’re portraying it. It can’t be cheap, it can’t be a joke or something and that’s been sort of really amazing — that reaction from men and women that are in recovery and just sort of feel that pain,” he told Access. “There’s just something missing inside [Deacon] that he’s having trouble filling. And, he tries everything and so far, Rayna’s the best candidate, but whether that works, we’ll find out.”

“Nashville” airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on ABC.

-- Jolie Lash

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