Charles Esten arrived in Nashville six years ago as an accomplished actor whose first love was always music. After earning steady acting work for about two decades, Esten said he gradually started to let go of the dreams of performing music. But, as his full schedule at this year’s CMA Fest demonstrates, Esten has established himself as a legitimate musician and a Nashville independent music success story.
“We always appreciated each other, but I think once you’ve lost it and you got it back, and then you know it’s going away again, you just sort of live it out in a different way,” Esten tells Variety. “That was true this whole last season.”
For six seasons, Charles Esten has portrayed Music City's most tortured heartthrob. In his role as Deacon Claybourne on CMT’s (formerly ABC's) Nashville, the artist and actor has seen the character through his share of ups and downs. Throughout the series, Deacon has battled alcoholism, devastating losses and the ever-churning change of the music industry; as the show heads into its final episodes, though, he's a character who has — mostly — come full circle.