Charles Esten almost didn’t get the part of “Deacon Claybourne” on CMT’s Nashville.

the country singing role was almost won by real-life country singer Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts. In a new interview, he reveals acting has been “a neat thing for me to...sink my teeth into.”

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“It’s so funny, our little running joke is I read for the role of Deacon and my buddy Chip got it,” Jay says. “So I always like telling that he stole my gig. The only things that I could do right now given the opportunity, would be like little guest starring roles on things but I couldn’t be on a series right now. I really just read for Deacon for the experience of it because the more auditions you go on the more comfortable you become with the process.”

Jay has, in fact, made guest appearances on the show throughout its five seasons so far. Other country stars that have appeared on Nashville include Brad Paisley, Kacey Musgraves, Chris Young and many more.

The final season of Nashville begins Thursdays in January on CMT.