If you haven’t set Yellowstone yet, you’re missing out. Arguably the most popular cable TV show in recent memory, it reportedly matched Game of Thrones viewership, with the season four finale pulling in a whopping 9.4 million viewers per deadline. It recently received its first-ever Emmy nomination for production design, and it’s only a matter of time before it receives more recognition from award winners.
Created by the inimitable Taylor Sheridan, “Yellowstone” follows a family struggling to keep their lands and is of course packed with intrigue, mayhem and good ol’ family strife. Consider it a “Succession” but in the wild wild west. To say it stars interesting characters is an understatement (Kevin Costner, anyone?), but viewers have taken a particular liking to Beth Dutton, played by actress Kelly Reilly.
If you’re a fan of the series, you know the impact Reilly’s character has had on the show, which solidifies the fact that she’s a capable actress. Apparently, she’s been in this acting game for quite some time, although most of her work can be seen across the pond as well.
Kelly Reilly’s acting career began in England
If you scratch your head when you think of where you’ve seen Kelly Reilly before, it’s probably on a British TV show or film. As shocking as it may sound, the actress is originally from England, although the impeccable American accent she uses in “Yellowstone” doesn’t give that away.
Reilly has been acting since she was a teenager, appearing on British shows like ‘Prime Suspect’ and ‘Bramwell’ on IMDb. In her 20s, she decided to take it seriously and flew all the way to Los Angeles to get her big break. “I was in my 20s when I came to LA for work,” she told Parade in 2018. “If I had some free time, I’d get out west and go horseback riding. I’ve been riding my whole life.” Speaking to The Independent, she also said she wasn’t naturally gifted as an actor, but she persevered because it was what she wanted. “I wasn’t a born actor,” admitted Reilly, “I was very introverted, very shy… It [acting] came out of an absolute need – I really wanted to be an actor. I really wanted this to be my life.”
In the 2000s, she began booking big projects, starring in big films like Sherlock Holmes, Triage, and Me and Orson Welles. She was also cast in True Detective and dabbled in Broadway to star in Old Times. In 2012, she won the Spotlight Award at the 2012 Hollywood Film Festival for her role in Flight, in which she starred opposite Denzel Washington.
Kelly Reilly’s future at Yellowstone
Being British, you might be wondering why Kelly Reilly would even star in a western show like Yellowstone, but she said she’s in love with the country. “I love Montana, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. It’s a place I’ve spent time when I’ve traveled since I was actually a teenager,” she told Parade.
In her interview with The Wrap, she even said it was kind of a miracle that she landed the part. She’s grateful for it nonetheless, and while she found playing Beth Dutton difficult, she loves playing the role. “I kept to myself for the first few years, just kind of hiding in the role, mostly to convince myself I could do it,” Reilly said. “I approached her like Lady Macbeth, but the amount of color I get to play with her is a real gift as an actress. Beth is the most challenging role I’ve ever had to play.”
And while she’s already showcased her incredible acting skills on the show, she said she still has a lot to prove. “I love that there’s room for a female character who is so powerful and so flawed,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “I feel like [creator] Taylor and I struck a chord with something and now it’s about protecting it and keeping it authentic. To see how much bigger we can make it… For me, I want peace for Beth in the end. Hopefully we’ll get there, but we’re nowhere near that.”