When Nashville returns for the back-half of season 5, there will be two new characters in town: Alyssa Greene, played by special guest star Rachel Bilson, and Jessie Caine, played by new series regular Empire‘s Kaitlin Doubleday.
“We felt that mixing it up with new characters relating to our original characters would just bring more light to the show,” showrunner Marshall Herskovitz says of the additions, the first of whom is Bilson, whose Alyssa is a Silicon Valley marketing expert brought in to help Highway 65. And don’t bother asking her anything about country music, because she doesn’t listen to it. “We were very interested in the business of Nashville,” Herskovitz says. “The idea of bringing in another character who’s not from the business and who has to learn the business as we’re learning the business just seemed fascinating to us. We love Rachel. I’ve been a fan of hers for a very long time. I love the fact that she’s funny and that she’s charming and that she’s smart. It brings a slightly different color to the show that I just am really enjoying.”
As for Doubleday’s Jessie Caine, fans will meet a singer/songwriter who’s returning to Nashville after having left a few years back “under a cloud of scandal.” Now, she’s ready to reclaim her career (and the son that was taken from her). “This is a person who had a career, whose career was essentially destroyed by a personal catastrophe,” Herskovitz says. “There’s a moment when we first meet her where she says, ‘I took a few years off to ruin my life,’ and one of the other musicians nearby says, ‘Welcome to Nashville.’ The collision between being an artist, trying to have a life, and trying to succeed in the business is endlessly difficult and endlessly fascinating in terms of drama. So the idea of someone trying to start again was very appealing to us.”
Unlike newcomer Alyssa, Jessie does know a few of the people around town. Herskovitz says Jessie knows Scarlett and Deacon because, once upon a time, she’d known Rayna. But don’t read too much into the connections: It’s more about the fact that they’re all artists.
Doubleday will make her first appearance in Nashville‘s June 15 episode, with Bilson a few episodes behind. For now, watch a sneak peek of their time on the show above.