Charles Esten

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Star of ABC's Nashville


Charles Esten: Biography at a Glance

  • Known for playing Deacon Claybourne on ABC’s Nashville
  • First appeared on the original British version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? before joining the U.S. version
  • Performed at the Grand Ole Opry and historic Ryman Auditorium
  • Made his theatrical debut playing Buddy Holly in the West End production of “Buddy”
  • Television credits include Big Love, Enlightened, and The Office


Successfully crossing over from musical theater to comedy to television, Charles "Chip" Esten continues to entertain audiences on ABC's award-winning Nashville.

Born in Pittsburgh, Esten was raised in Alexandria, Virginia and graduated from T.C. Williams High School. He attended The College of William and Mary, where he earned a degree in economics and met his wife, Patty. While studying in Williamsburg, he was the lead singer and songwriter in a popular local band.

Esten made his theatrical debut in London when he portrayed 'Buddy Holly,' singing, acting and playing guitar in the hit West End musical Buddy. In that role he was honored to perform for H.R.M Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, and eventually President and Mrs. George H.W. Bush at The White House. He also had the opportunity to perform with Buddy’s original hit-making bandmates, the Crickets.

It was during his run as 'Buddy' that Esten first appeared on the original British version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, with Ryan Stiles and Greg Proops. When Whose Line came stateside, Esten became a recurring cast member. Since then, he has toured with Drew Carey’s Improvaganza, performing live improv shows with Stiles, Proops and Jeff B. Davis.

Esten’s television credits include recurring roles on Big Love, Enlightened, The Office and ER. Besides playing the father on Disney Channel’s Jessie,, he appeared as a 'Klingon' on Star Trek: The Next Generation, a secretary on Murphy Brown and Kelly Bundy’s fiance on the series finale of Married with Children.

Currently seen on Nashville, Esten has made a name for himself in the country music scene, performing at the Grand Ole Opry and the historic Ryman auditorium. He was also honored to officially "flip the switch" at the 2013 Graceland Christmas Lighting ceremony. Many of the songs Esten has performed as 'Deacon' ("Undermine," "Sideshow," "Playin' Tricks,") are available on the three very successful Nashville soundtracks.

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