Esten in tune with ‘Nashville’

TV's Top 10: New Faces for Fall - Charles 'Chip' Esten

Charles “Chip” Esten doesn’t consider himself a fresh face.

The actor and musician, starring in ABC’s “Nashville” alongside Connie Britton as the leader of her band, received one of his first television credits by walking through the famed barroom doors of “Cheers” on its series finale in 1993.

Series television has been a mainstay for Esten recently, with roles in “Enlightened,” “Big Love” and previous multi-episode arcs on “ER” and “The Office.” Feature films, including “The Postman” and “Swing Vote,” also pepper his resume.

But it was his turn as Buddy Holly on stage in London that first got him noticed.

“I was new to acting, and had been in a band in college,” Esten says. “I got to perform for the queen, king and Princess Diana, and at the Kennedy Center.”

The London gig also led to a long-term perch on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

As Deacon Claybourne on “Nashville,” which is being shot on location in Music City, Esten is utilizing his well-refined guitar chops.

His relationship with Britton’s character Rayna James — they were former lovers, broke up because of his addictions but still have an affection for each other — and with the up-and-coming country crooner played by Hayden Panettiere make for dramatic storylines in the Callie Khouri-created show.

Esten lauds his talented leading ladies. “I’ve been lucky to work with great women: Christina Applegate, Chloe Sevigny, Hilary Swank, Laura Dern and Julia Louis-Dreyfus,” he says. “That holds true with this role as well.”

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