Photo by Blake Pellenberg
Tilky Jones may not yet be a household name, but his star is definitely on the rise. Following prominent roles on One Tree Hill and Pretty Little Liars, the 31-year-old actor-musician is back in the spotlight, recently joining ABC’s top freshman drama Nashville as Sean Butler, the new love interest for Juliette Barnes (Hayden Paynettiere).
As evidenced in last week’s episode, Jones’s character is having quite the impact on Juliette—the country starlet originally paired up with Sean for good PR. Now, the football charmer—a “Tim Tebow type,” according to Jones—is all wrapped up in the sudsy mess that is “Music City,” albeit a fictionalized version.
From Jones’s perspective, he’s perfectly OK with the situation that’s unfolding: “I think a really great dynamic about the two characters is that he sort of pulls her into his world rather her tangling him up in her web, which is what she's been doing with the other guys on the show.”
Having been versed in the primetime soap scene, the bright lights and high notes of Nashville still come with very familiar elements for Jones.
“I like the glossy part of what I do,” he explained. “But I've also done independents and some edgy work as well. I think that's one of the really important things about having a well rounded career, is being able to split the difference and do both.”
Although the show has been criticized by some Nashville residents and as being over-the-top, Jones acknowledges the “added entertainment value” while pointing to the show’s reflection of the music industry. “One of the difficult sides of this business you know, someone always wants something from you. This character that I play doesn't want anything from Juliette, he just genuinely likes her and wants to be around her without seeking anything out. I think that's one of the things that allows her to really feel something for Sean.”
Jones knows a thing or two about the music industry. Before he immersed himself into acting, he was involved in Take 5, a pop band that had a short run in the late ‘90s. For this multi-talented South Carolina native, Nashville is pretty much the best of both world. With Jones's musical background, it only made sense that Sean gets to dabble in it himself.
"That's one of the things that's just gratifying with the show,” he explained. “Is being able to be apart of that [music]."
And while the acting has been a topic of discussion as of late, the music is certainly top of the line as well. Tracks from Gary Clark Jr., Edward Sharpe, Blitzen Trapper, Dawes and others have all soundtracked the show in past episodes.
“Everything about it has been great,” Jones said of the show. “The cast and crew has been wonderful, the music, and of course you can’t help but love the southern hospitality. Nashville is a great city, and I’m glad we get to do this.”
Nashville’s “winter finale” airs Wednesday, Dec. 5, on ABC.