Kelly Reilly wants peace for her ‘Yellowstone’ character

It’s hard not to be in awe of the view Kelly Reilly shows me during our video interview. Outside the windows is the deep blue Montana skyline, an endless horizon of fat, cloudy clouds and rolling mountains. She is currently filming the fifth season of Taylor Sheridan’s riveting epic western, Yellowstone, and has just woken up after filming “until the wee hours.”

The English actor portrays Beth Dutton, a character who has become a series favorite among women (and men) due to her resilience paired with a sharp tongue that “has no edit switch.” According to Reilly, the sprawling setting helps to understand what the Dutton family is fighting for. “If that [land] cemented over and turned into a city, it would be absolutely heartbreaking. Besides, those mountains are brutal. Wherever you go, you are in a place where you need to keep your wits about you. That kind of wildness, that edge, is what defines Beth. I enjoy that it is tailored to this mountain rock.”

But beneath Beth’s rigid cowboy exterior lies a bruised heart. The cause of this pain is revealed during a flashback sequence in Season 3, where her mother is tragically struck down by a terrified horse and in her final moments blames her 14-year-old daughter for it. Beth carries the weight of that guilt. But it is also the shadow of their fearlessness. This prompts her to hunt down the circling vultures trying to take over her family’s land.

“For me, the central person in Beth’s life is her father [John Dutton, played by Kevin Costner]. I always put it down to her need to make up for what she felt she stole from him… his wife, who is his happiness. I think that’s why she does what she does for him.”

In Season 4 (and fair warning, there are spoilers ahead of the plot) Beth is caught between trying to save the ranch from a hostile takeover and trying to press her father to find those responsible for the attempted murder of her family , a storyline carried over after last season’s explosive finale. Beth believes her now-adopted brother Jamie (Wes Bentley) is behind all of this, but her father assures her otherwise. The twist in the story that Beth cleverly uncovers is that it’s Jamie’s birth father (Will Patton) who wants her dead.

“The pain that Beth transmits to Jamie has never been dealt with. [In Season 3, we learned Jamie takes Beth to an abortion clinic and doesn’t say that the procedure will sterilize her.] As for the past with him and her, now it’s about his biological father trying to kill her and Jamie doesn’t do anything about it,” says Reilly. “She needs revenge for the attack. There’s no way she can let that go. Instead of doing it – here you can see the wildness of her spirit – Beth will make Jamie do it [kill his biological father], which will be one of the most hurtful things she can get him to do. That means he’s in charge and Beth is his.”

It’s not all a fight for Beth, however. After the death of her mother, she finds love in Rip (Cole Hauser), an orphan turned badass cowboy. For Reilly, it’s a welcome level for a complex character. “In a show that is so violent and brutal, their love story is so tender to me. I can explore the sides of Beth where those walls fell and she can experience happiness and peace.”

Their recurring relationship turns a new page when Beth asks for it his hand in marriage. “Rip loves Beth’s wildness. It is quite instinctive and original. She is this raging river. And if she was with a man trying to prevent or control that, it wouldn’t work,” says Reilly. “Because they loved each other as children, we’ve always tried to weave in that element of how youthful he makes her feel.”

That innocence is on full display in the season 4 finale when Beth and Rip spontaneously wed on the ranch. Instead of traditional white, she wears a gold chain mail mini dress, fur coat, and boots. “I had this idea that before she takes everyone outside, Beth would run over and put her mother’s wedding dress on, but if we were to turn her into this beautiful, simple dress, it wouldn’t be Beth,” says Reilly. “Beth doesn’t care what she marries. She just wants to be married.”

The ceremony is marked by her father, John, leading her through a makeshift passageway to Rip, where the couple exchange vows ad libbed before being sealed with a kiss in front of a priest that Beth has literally kidnapped. (Don’t worry: John offers to drive him back to his church.)

“There’s something unconscious about her that’s really fun to play,” notes Reilly. “I love that there’s room for a female character who is so powerful and so flawed. And her heart is something that is so important to me. I feel like Daron James 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. How powerful she can be and what her soul’s journey is. For me, I want peace for Beth in the end. Hopefully we’ll get there, but we’re nowhere near that.” Kelly Reilly wants peace for her ‘Yellowstone’ character

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