“When you start a project, you have no idea if it’s going to work,” Reilly says. But work it did. When Yellowstone came calling, she didn’t hold full faith in her ability to embody one of the most memorable American characters in television history. But she did have faith in the storytelling abilities of Yellowstone‘s mastermind, Taylor Sheridan.
“When we all signed on, five years ago now, I knew, because of Taylor Sheridan and the writing, that it was going to be dangerous and brilliant and beautiful. And Kevin, obviously,” she cites of her iconic co-star and Dutton patriarch Kevin Costner, who was the first actor to sign onto the series.
For Reilly, whether she was going to take on Beth Dutton or not came down to reading the pilot and the nature of Sheridan’s brilliant creation.
“When I read Episode 1, the pilot of the first season, I had never read a female character like her before,” she emphasizes. ” I had read male characters like her. The sort of irreverent, fearless [types]. And she’s not a femme fatale. She’s not a man eater. Not someone who’s just a bitch,” she continues of Beth. Instead, she was reading a woman of “these very conflicting layers. Layers, layers, layers, of who this woman was.”
As Beth Dutton came to life in Reilly’s mind, she was like no one she had ever known. And certainly unlike any woman she’d ever portrayed in a decades-long career spanning both stage and screen.
Instead, here was this fascinating, beautiful person. Reilly felt “Deep rooted trauma and pain underneath this fearless thunderstorm of a woman,” something that continues into Season 5 as she films in Montana.
Five years on, “I find her heart, and her devotion and her loyalty to her father, beautiful. I also find it incredibly sad,” Reilly continues. “She moves me a lot. And then the way Taylor writes her, he clearly loves writing her. And some of the things I get to do and say as Beth, there’s only one way to do it. Which is to fully commit,” Reilly laughs. “I can’t skate around the edges with her. To find the authenticity of her, is that this is who she is.”
Heading into Season 5, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role of Beth Dutton. But Kelly Reilly remains as humble and grateful as she was before taking on the role that would change her life.
“This is once in a lifetime that this sort of role comes along for an actor. And I knew, I knew that I wanted to play her. But I wasn’t certain at all that I would get the role back then. But someone told me what a gift that this would end up being. Personally, creatively. Professionally.”
For Kelly Reilly, filming Season 5 is ‘Still just as exciting as it was in Season 1’
It has turned out to be “one of those opportunities,” in every way, the Yellowstone icon says. “And I value it. I treasure it.”
As Reilly notes, she’s just run off set for Gold Derby. “I still have my Beth scar on,” she laughs, “and we’ve just shot a scene for Season 5; literally ran off set to do this. And it’s still as exciting as it was in Season 1.”
For plenty more from the Beth Dutton actor, check out Gold Derby‘s full interview below.
Kelly Reilly returns as the Dutton daughter come November 13 for Yellowstone Season 5, exclusively on Paramount Network.