Although she may not be the most recognizable name, Connie Britton has a massive fan-following, easily evidenced by the captive audience she faced during this morning's Nashville panel at The Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills.
We gathered to hear the Friday Night Lights alum talk about her new ABC series, Nashville (co-starring Hayden Panettiere as the Eve Harrington to Britton's Margo Channing) in which she does her own singing! And
TheInsider.com: What attracted you to the project??
Connie Britton: Well, who doesn't dream of being a country western star? Nobody! I mean, everybody dreams of that. The idea of playing this character, who felt like someone I hadn't done before presented a really great challenge for me. Coming from Friday Night Lights, and even American Horror Story, it's tough to top those, so I wanted to find something that challenged me in a whole new way and I felt like this was gonna do that.
Insider.com: I was very impressed by your singing voice -- I didn't know you were such a good singer!
Connie: Well, you're being very kind [laughs] I sang when I was younger and stopped because I have such great regard for people who are truly brilliant singers. But at the same time I thought it'd be really fun to get back and see what I can do and try to play a character who embraces that so ... we'll see!
Insider.com: How do you describe your character, Rayna James, who was a massive country queen but is facing a fading star?
Connie: I really think of her as a woman who has come into her own. She's a self-made woman who has lived by her ideals and gained great success by living true to her heart. I love playing characters like that. I try to play characters that are really different from each other, but there's always that common thread to me which stems from having an authenticity. We're gonna see Rayna go through a lot of conflict and turmoil. But that sort of solid foundation I think is something she's always gonna have.
Insider.com: Fans love you with a southern accent, but was there an urge to avoid saying "y'all" as much here as you did on Friday Night Lights?
Connie: Well, what's interesting is there isn't as much "y'all" in Nashville. There's a lot of "you guys," especially in the music world. So I made a choice with this character that when she's doing the business stuff she says "you guys" and when she's with the family, it's a little bit more [informal] so she says "y'all." Because, you know, "y'all" is just kinda ... that's just it. "Y'all" is southern; you can't get away from that.
Insider.com: I'm sure that's also one more way Rayna is differentiated from Tami.
Connie: Exactly. I hope there won't be too much comparison because this character is really different from Tami Taylor.
Insider.com: It also helps that you had American Horror Story as a buffer -- Ryan Murphy has stated that he'd like to have the season one cast back in some capacity. Are you game?
Connie: Totally! Listen, if I can make time to do it and Ryan can write it in there, I'm there. I'll play a ghost any day of the week on American Horror Story [laughs].
Insider.com: There's been lots of talk about the Friday Night Lights movie -- do you feel like there's more to her story?
Connie: I think so. I think that those characters and that world were so fully created and developed that we could follow them throughout their lives indefinitely -- and I have always felt that way. I'm thrilled as an actor to be able to play different roles now. But I also feel like I could go back into that role and just slip those shoes right back on. Slip those cowboy boots right back on [laughs].
Nashville premieres October 10 at 10 p.m. on ABC.