February 28, 2017 11:27 AM


Nashville shocked fans on Thursday with the devastating death of Rayna Jaymes, the country superstar singer, loving wife and mother of two portrayed by Connie Britton for five seasons on the show.

But while fans of the soap might have been crying during Jaymes’ emotional goodbye, it was Britton who was tearing up on Tuesday when reminiscing about the role.

“I’m going to get choked up,” the 49-year-old actress told Kelly Ripa and Jerry O’Connell during a stop by  Live with Kelly. “It really was hard. That’s my family — that’s been my Nashville family. I loved playing that role so much. So it’s been a lot of things.”

Britton, who had asked Nashville producers to leave the show, said her exit was “something that [she] wanted for a lot of reasons.” That said, spending her last scenes in a hospital bed wasn’t exactly a restful way to end her run.

“I’ve been in a coma before and it wasn’t all as it’s cracked up to be,” she said. “I wasn’t as excited about the coma acting as I thought. Because the way they get you with the coma, you have to put the tube in your throat. And I was like, ‘This is not as fun as I expected.’ ”

She did grab some things from set on the way out.

“Rayna Jaymes had really fabulous clothes. So I might have swiped a couple of things,” Britton said before showing off one small souvenir. “And this – this is the program for Rayna and Deacon’s wedding. So that was kind of sentimental.”

Just because Britton’s character is dead doesn’t mean she won’t be seen on the show again, though. She will appear in flashbacks for a few more episodes later this season. And during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Monday night — her first since her Nashville death aired — Britton hinted she would be open to appearing on the show as an evil twin or a zombie.

“I think these are great ideas actually,” Britton said. “I think the twin sister idea is not bad. It’s Nashville, anything can happen. What if the long lost twin sister can come back? Oh and she’s such a devil. Oh she’s such a devil. She’ll come back and be horrible!”

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Sadly, it appeared Britton was just joking. “[Rayna’s] really dead,” she said. “I’m sorry! I gotta tell it like it is.”

And though the confirmation was heartbreaking, Britton had a sweet message for Nashville‘s fans.

“I would say to my fans, first of all, that I love you so much. The show loves you so much. Rayna will live on forever. I feel so fortunate that I was able to play that character truly with all my heart. I love that character so much. And just as when we lose somebody in our lives, the spirit will live on. And there’s reruns!” Britton said.

Nashville airs Thursdays (9 p.m. ET) on CMT.

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