Hayden Panettiere, Connie Britton
Dust off your cowboy hats. Nashville returns for its second season Wednesday (10/9c, ABC), and there's sure to be no shortage of drama.
As producers Callie Khouri and Dee Johnson told TVGuide.com earlier this summer, this season will find Rayna (Connie Britton) and Deacon (Charles Esten) recovering from that nasty car accident — as well as Deacon struggling with his alcoholism and coming to grips with the realization that he's Maddie's (new series regular Lennon Stella) father. Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) will also be dealing with the loss of her mother, while Scarlett (Clare Bowen) and Gunnar (Sam Palladio) may be taking their relationship in a new direction after Gunnar's proposal at the end of Season 1.
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But there will also be a host of new faces in town to stir things up during the show's sophomore season. Get to know four new characters who will play major roles in Season 2:
Layla Grant (Ashley Peeples): Forget Rayna James. Juliette has a new musical rival in Season 2 — and this time it's Juliette who finds herself in danger of getting passed over for a hot new singer. Meet Layla Grant, an up-and-coming young starlet who sparks resentment in her more senior counterparts since she hasn't exactly paid her dues to find fame. "No matter how young you are, there's always somebody younger nipping at your heels," Johnson tells TVGuide.com. "Juliette's 24 years old, and ... basically started out in talent shows, county fairs and worked her way up, and has been doing that for a long time. The character of Layla Grant is somebody who came in via a television singing talent show, and sort of parachuted into the scene, jumping over a few steps. She's 19 years old, and definitely has designs on the territory that Juliette has spent all of last season trying to vacate, which is the younger audience. From Juliette's point of view, nothing becomes more appealing than when somebody wants to take it away from you, right?"
Luke Wheeler (Will Chase): The Smash alum will try his hand at country music this season, joining Nashville in a recurring role as a musical A-lister (think Keith Urban). "In country music, some of the biggest artists are the male mainstream country singers," Johnson explains. "Rayna is certainly up there, but this guy is right now the biggest male country artist. She's never really been with anybody who is that level of a peer. He's a peer and then some. It ends up being kind of an interesting relationship." Does that mean their rivalry could blossom into romance? "It doesn't start out that way, but yes," Johnson teases. "[Rayna's] never had that much of a public relationship with another star."
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Jeff Fordham (Oliver Hudson): With Rayna slowly getting back on her feet in the aftermath of the car crash, she'll find herself clashing with new record exec Jeff Fordham. "He's taken over the record label that both Rayna and Juliette belong to, and some headbutting is going to happen there," Johnson teases. But that's not the only thing that happens. As previously reported, sparks may fly between him and Rayna this season as well. (She's really getting around this season!) We're guessing Deacon won't be a fan.
Zoey (Chaley Rose): Rose stars as Zoey, Scarlett's longtime BFF who moves to Nashville — but not to pursue a music career. She does end up working at the Bluebird, however, and audiences will learn more about Scarlett's backstory through their relationship. "There's this nice dynamic between Scarlett and Zoe," Palladio says. "She throws a spanner in the works a bit."
Nashville kicks off Season 2 Wednesday at 10/9c on ABC. Which new characters are you looking forward to meeting?
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