October 6, 2012
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TV Show: Nashville

Britton creates buzz with 'Nashville'
By Bill Harris, QMI Agency


Connie Britton.

American television has been invaded by Great Britton.

Consider what Connie Britton has done in the past few seasons.

Her current series is the new big-buzz, country-music-themed drama Nashville, which debuts Wednesday on ABC and CTV Two.

Last season, Britton was one of the stars of the super-spooky American Horror Story. Britton got an Emmy Award nomination for her efforts.

And prior to that, Britton starred in the critically acclaimed Friday Night Lights for five seasons. That role got Britton two Emmy nominations.

So from football fields, to haunted houses, to concert halls, Connie Britton has been everywhere. Is she purposely picking roles that couldn't be more different than whatever she played previously?

"Yes, that is very much by design," Britton said. "I'm trying to do things that are very different and most specifically feel scary and risky."

In Nashville, Britton plays Rayna Jaymes, one of country music's top female vocalists for two decades. But in the current business model, Rayna suddenly is having trouble competing with a new generation of singers, particularly Juliette Barnes, played by Hayden Panettiere.

If Rayna wants to remain relevant, she may have to make some compromises that she feels are beneath her. So how badly does she want it?

Britton is doing her own singing in Nashville, which is the "scary and risky" bit she was referring to earlier.

"When we first had a conversation about it, I said, 'What about the singing, would Rayna be doing her own singing?' " Britton recalled. "And they said, 'Well ... that would be the ideal. Do you sing?'

"And I said, 'Nobody has paid me to sing in a very long time.' And Callie (Khouri, co-executive producer) said, 'That means at some point in your life, someone paid you to sing, so it must be okay.'

"Little did she know, because it was doing summer stock (theatre) or whatever."

Britton has been working closely with record producer T-Bone Burnett to develop her voice for this role. But in the pilot, at least, Nashville isn't Glee. There's a singing element to it, obviously, but it doesn't overpower the story, which is the interesting part anyway.

"I don't know, I'm really just grateful all the time about it," said the 45-year-old Britton, when asked why her career is firing on all cylinders right now.

"I try to play such different characters, but there's always one strong intent, and that is to play women in a way that portrays them as powerful and true and complex and sort of comfortable in their own skin, even in the midst of crisis and chaos, in whatever form that takes.

"Listen, in TV we have a lot of opportunity, we're seeing a lot of strong women characters. But to play a strong woman who is also accessible and has a lot of the same qualities as most women do, I think people appreciate that."

Clearly Connie Britton is appreciated. As Great Britton continues to expand its territory, this is one time the invader truly is being greeted as a liberator.

 




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