Actor Charles Esten, currently appearing as songwriter-bandleader Deacon Claybourne on the new ABC series “Nashville,” comes by his character’s love of country music honestly.
“When your dad is a country music fan and you take long car trips, you become one too,” he says with a laugh. Esten, who goes by “Chip” and may also look familiar from his many appearances on the improv comedy show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and recurring roles on shows like “Big Love,” “The Office,” and “Enlightened,” says his dad raised him up on the classics: Waylon, Willie, and Hank.
At a recent party in Beverly Hills to celebrate the premiere of “Nashville,” Esten raved about getting to perform on a show with such a great dramatic and musical pedigree thanks to writer/executive producer Callie Khouri (Academy Award-winning screenwriter of “Thelma & Louise”), executive musical producer T Bone Burnett (an Academy and Grammy Award winner), and costars like the Emmy-nominated Connie Britton and Emmy winner Powers Boothe. “This thing is like an amazing, vintage, perfect beautiful car that they said, ‘Hey, get in this and take a ride!’ And I’m just sitting here like, ‘Really? Really?’ They don’t want to settle.”
Esten, who got his start playing Buddy Holly in the West End, also didn’t want to settle on just five when we asked him his favorite country songs, but we forced his hand.
1. “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” Hank Williams
2. “Good Hearted Woman,” Waylon Jennings
3. “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” Kris Kristofferson
4. “The Winner,” Bobby Bare
5. “Jackson,” Johnny Cash and June Carter
“Nashville” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Channel 5.