Credit: ABC

Chip Esten is an emotional guy. The Nashville actor has a lot of feelings, and unlike his broody on-screen counterpart Deacon, he’s not afraid of sharing them. (Although, you can expect Deacon to tell Rayna how he really feels in the Season 2 finale of Nashville.)

Wetpaint caught up with Chip at the Entertainment Weekly and ABC Upfronts party on Tuesday night in New York City and he was pretty candid about his future on Rayna’s tour bus. Plus, what’s ahead for Deacon and Maddie when Nashville returns to Season 3? And how does he really feel about Friday Night Lights star Kyle Chandler? We’ve got the scoop for you below!

Wetpaint Entertainment: Where do you you see Deacon’s relationship with Maddie headed in Season 3?

Chip Esten: It’s almost easier being this magical daddy that she’s just found out about, where everything is going really well and he’s the cool dad, but there has to come a point where he becomes a parent. That means he’s going to say some things that don’t make her happy but he’s going to say them anyway because they’re good for her. It will be interesting exploring that next season. In this last episode, there’s this moment where she wants to go on the road, all of us together, and mama says no, so Deacon backs her up. Maddie doesn’t like that one bit, but that’s how it’s got to be.

Credit: ABC

It’s time for Deacon to get serious.

Exactly. The cool thing, I think, is how great Lennon Stella is doing. And Maisy. We knew they were gorgeous singers, but who knew they would be such amazing actresses so quickly? I think what the writers have seen is that they can take this storyline a whole bunch of different places because the girls can handle it as actresses.

They’ve done such an amazing job this season! I remember when I first watched their “Call Your Girlfriend” video on YouTube a few years ago.

Me too! My kids knew them from YouTube before they met them, and now they’re all just buddies. It’s the best.

Do you think it’s possible for Deacon, Rayna, Teddy, and the girls to be one happy family?

There’s what you want, and then there’s what makes good television. One of things I love about our show is that you do get those moments. You do get those moments of pure harmony. The episode at Fort Campbell, where we’re on that stage singing together. That’s a moment. I don’t know if you’re going to get a lifetime of that. Life is difficult for anybody, especially Deacon and Rayna, and we’re going to have more challenges and hard things for sure, but those moments of connection do get you a long way.

Is there a moment in the finale that you’re particularly excited for fans to see?

I know how great Connie [Britton] is at what she does, but it was really something to see her perform at LP Field. When you’re performing at LP Field and you need to walk out and assume that mantle of somebody that can own a stage in the middle of a football field, it’s easier said than done. So to watch Connie, take after take, walk down that hallway toward the field, it was amazing. They would say, “Action,” and suddenly, my friend Connie Britton becomes Rayna Jaymes. Just watching her take that stage was incredible. This is somebody who is an actress first, not a singer or performer. I’m full of admiration that she would be so gutsy and do it. She looks like the reigning queen of country music and she owns it.

I was just excited to see Tammi Taylor back out on the football field! As a Friday Night Lights fan, when you were cast in this role as Deacon, did you ever have this thought of how you would stack up to Coach Taylor?

I knew that starting up, and I had also read the script, so I knew very well that I wasn’t playing her husband — that was Eric [Close] who was playing Teddy — but the truth is it took two of us to replace Kyle Chandler. It took Deacon and Teddy [laughs]. But on a serious note, it took the two of us to also make it different than that. It would have been hard for anybody just to play the role of her husband, and I cross my fingers that we have the same level of chemistry as Coach and Mrs. Coach.


Credit: ABC

Deacon and Rayna’s chemistry is definitely up there!

Thank you. You know, I was such a huge fan of Friday Night Lights. My wife and I would watch it together, and to me, that’s easily one of the best husband and wife relationships on television ever. So that means a lot.

I’m glad to hear you’re a fan! [Ed. note: When asked to name of his favorite episodes of Friday Night Lights, Chip replied with the Season 1 classic, “Mud Bowl.”]

You know it’s funny. My kids go to school just outside of Nashville, and we went and saw a football game. Hours before the game, the football team came out to warm-up out on the field just to stretch and loosen their pads, and somebody started playing that FNL music through the speakers. And these guys are walking out onto the field with that music! I almost started tearing up. There was nothing emotional about it, but it was so evocative and so moving. I’m such a fan.

In many ways, Nashville has those moments as well.

With our show, it always comes back to the music and what it is to play and make that music. With FNL, it always came back to the game and what it is to walk out on that field and give it your all. That’s what it’s all about. So when you find those moments where life is no good and life is hard, it’s like, “Let’s just go play some football, or let’s just go play some music.”

Catch the season finale of Nashville on Wednesday, May 14 at 10 p.m. on ABC. 

Crystal Bell is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident fangirl and pop culture enthusiast. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!