The final season of Nashville has just premiered, and in a new interview, series star Charles Esten reveals that one of his future co-stars did something completely in keeping with their Nashville character during his audition.

Este tells Us Weekly that the only Nashville cast member that he'd met prior to his audition was Eric Close, who portrayed Teddy Conrad on the first few seasons on ABC and has since made a few guest appearances. His first meeting with one of his other castmates happened right after he finished his reading for the role of Deacon Claybourne.

"At my audition, I was in a room, about this size again, and I did a couple scenes and I played a couple songs and said thank you," he recalls. "I walked out the door, and Hayden [Panettiere] was right outside the door, with her ear to it, in a very Juliette kind of way."

Panettiere won the role of the scheming Juliette Barnes, but Esten says that despite eavesdropping on his audition, she proved nothing like her character from the very start.

"She was just the nicest person," he recalls. "She said, ‘That was so good,’ and I go, ‘Oh, well, nice to meet you.’"

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He recognized her from her prior starring role on Heroes.

"I’m thinking, 'Save the cheerleader, save the world.' I knew who she was, she didn’t know who I was. But she couldn’t have been kinder, and afterwards I was sort of blowing smoke, joking around. I said, ‘See you on the set.’ I was nowhere near landing that role yet, but it turned out to be the case. It’s the best, and we’ve been buddies ever since."

Esten had competition for the role of Deacon from a legitimate country star. Rascal Flatts bassist Jay DeMarcus recently revealed that he auditioned for the role as well.

“It’s so funny, our little running joke is I read for the role of Deacon and my buddy Chip got it. So I always like telling that he stole my gig," DeMarcus jokes.

Nashville's sixth and final season premiered on Thursday (Jan. 4) on CMT.

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