Scarlett O'Connor (Clare Bowen) is getting her first taste of fame on ABC's Nashville(Wednesday, 10/9c), but will the pressure be too much? Last week's episode saw the aspiring singer/songwriter turning to pills to keep her creative juices flowing.
"I think she's coming to the end of her tether, really," Bowen tells TVGuide.com. "She didn't anticipate any of this at all. ... She didn't have any grand ideas of being a performer. She just created things. So the whole thing, it's a big rollercoaster for her."
And of course, that's just in her professional life. Personally, Scarlett is reeling from the betrayals of her ex-boyfriend Gunnar (Sam Palladio) and best friend Zoey (Chaley Rose), and caught in an on-again, off-again back-and-forth with her other ex, Avery (Jonathan Jackson).
"She's been treated like a doormat by so many people, and she has let it happen because she's respected them and loved them. ... I hope that she lets go of her need to please people," Bowen says. "That's something I've been through as well. Eventually, somebody breaks you and you're like, 'Oh ... OK.' And it's not a selfish thing. It's self-preservation, I think."
But will Scarlett come to regret her latest act of self-preservation — her refusal to write more songs for Kelly Clarkson with Gunnar? Bowen doesn't think so, and says she supports her character's decision. "She doesn't want to write with Gunnar anymore, and frankly, I wouldn't either," Bowen says. "It's her moment of self-respect. ... I think it was actually really strong of her to say, 'I'm sorry, I can't.' ... If you're in a state where you're very sad and something is hurting you, often it creates a mental block. So that's why Scarlett says, 'You wouldn't get those beautiful love songs anymore, because he doesn't love me anymore.' You can't fake that."
However, Bowen wavers when asked if Scarlett and Zoe's friendship is beyond repair. "I wouldn't do that to my best friend. I'm really sorry, but that's horrible," Bowen says. "I don't know what happens with those two. She wishes she could go back and for it all to be ok, but it's not. It's very plain that it's not, and you can't force it to be. ... But at the same time, Scarlett is a very forgiving creature. Just at the moment, she doesn't want to talk to [Zoey]."
Though Avery and Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) seem to be taking their friendship to the next level, Bowen — who is thankful for Avery's character redemption "because Jonathan Jackson is an absolute gem" — says it's too soon to tell whether his split from Scarlett is permanent. "You can't tell what's going to happen in life," she teases. "You've watched [Avery's] character develop into a much more level, stable, amicable person who's a bit happier for other people now. And that's the boy she fell in love with. ... It's just like, holy s---, there's this boy that I fell in love with years and years ago. You're back. Because he disappeared for a long time."
Continues Bowen: "It's a difficult thing. Scarlett moved her whole life for Avery. They met in college. She thought she was going to marry him. He was this amazing creative musician [and]beautiful person. When he got to Nashville ... it changed him. And Scarlett was desperately trying to hold on to this person that she loved so much. I think we've all been there, watching somebody change. It's hard."
Perhaps Scarlett should just be single for a while? "That's what I think," Bowen says. "So we shall see."
Nashville airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on ABC.