Kelly Reilly attends the premiere of Paramount Pictures' "Yellowstone" at Paramount Studios on June 11, 2018 in Hollywood, California.
Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Who Plays Beth Dutton on 'Yellowstone'? Kelly Reilly Brings the Series' Toughest Character to Life

Throughout its four seasons, the western series Yellowstone has become somewhat of a pop culture phenomenon. Oscar-winner Kevin Costner leads the all-star Yellowstone cast, which includes everyone from American Sniper actor Luke Grimes to Dazed and Confused alum Cole Hauser. But British actress Kelly Reilly has managed to make the character of Beth Dutton a fiery favorite that fans go wild for the season after season. She's a cutthroat businesswoman with a mouth that rivals any of the men on her family's ranch. But she's ferociously loyal, intelligent, and loves more fiercely than probably anyone you've ever met.

As the only daughter of the Yellowstone Ranch's patriarch John Dutton (Costner), Beth had to grow up one tough cookie. She was the only woman in a man's world after her mother tragically passed, so she decided to prove her worth to the Dutton legacy by being a strong business asset. Since season 1, she's gone above and beyond for her father to help him keep their family ranch, and it doesn't matter what or who gets in her way — she always seems to find a way to end up on top.

Though she can be a viper at times, we've seen a much softer side reserved for her one true love, John's right-hand man Rip Wheeler (Hauser). The scenes with Rip have not only showcased Reilly's incredible acting range but really established Beth as one of the most interesting and complex on the entire series. We know there's plenty more in store for these two in Yellowstone season 5 , and can't wait to see what creator Taylor Sheridan has planned.

Who is Kelly Reilly?

Kelly Reilly

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Did you know that Reilly, who looks right at home on a ranch in Montana, is actually British? 

Growing up in London, England, Jessica Kelly Siobhán Reilly actually got her first professional acting role after writing a TV show and asking for work. Helen Mirren's British television drama, Prime Suspect, called her in for an audition, and she appeared in a 1995 episode. Over the next few years, Reilly appeared in various stage productions before she started making her way back in front of the camera and, eventually, to Hollywood.

Reilly notably played the role of Wendy in the French comedy film opposite Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris, L'Auberge Espagnole, a role which earned her the Best Newcomer Award at the Cannes Film Festival. She also appeared in its two follow-up films — Les Poupées Russes (The Russian Dolls) and Casse-tête chinois, and had supporting roles in Mrs. Henderson Presents, Last Orders, Agatha Christie's Poirot, and Dead Bodies.

But American fans probably first remember Reilly for her role as Caroline Bingley in the Keira Knightley film Pride & PrejudiceMe and Orson Welles with Zac Efron, or playing Mary Watson in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Those supporting roles lead to leading roles in the horror film Eden Lake, the TV series Above Suspicion, as well as Heaven is for Real, Triage, and A Single Shot.

The English actress, who married financier Kyle Baugher in 2012, would soon make her way to American TV. She briefly led her own ABC drama, Black Box, before playing Vince Vaughn's wife in the second season of HBO's True Detective. Reilly also appeared on Broadway opposite Clive Owen in Old Times, before landing the role of the Celtic Queen Kerra in the Amazon TV show Britannia, which lasted for two seasons.

Beth Dutton on Yellowstone

Kelly Reilly in a field wearing a cowboy hat in a scene from 'Yellowstone'

Photo via Paramount Network

After her time working on Britannia, Reilly was cast in the leading female role on Yellowstone. She stars alongside Costner, Grimes, Hauser, Wes Bentley, and Gil Birmingham in easily one of the best casts currently on television. The role of Beth lets Reilly shine because Beth is incredibly tough. She also deals with a lot of emotional trauma and has a substance abuse problem, so it required an actress with a lot of range.

"She's probably the most self-loathing character that I've ever played," Reilly told Parade"But she outsources her pain like no other I've ever read. If I could akin her to anything, she's like some Shakespearean or Greek Tragedy character, like some goddess of war or something. It's like she's turned all that pain into darkness, so that's who she is." 

Beth is an incredibly complex character and, at times, makes some very unlikeable choices. But that's part of what Reilly loves about playing her and what fans love about watching her. You never know what she's going to do next or how far she'll go to get what she wants.

"I love her mind," Reilly told CinemaBlend. "I love her intelligence. I love her fierceness. She's a warrior...Like I trust, taking Beth so far into unlikability because I know I'm going to be held in [Yellowstone co-creator Taylor Sheridan]'s respect for her as a character. As he does with all of them. There's a messiness and forwardness to each of them, and also just a deep underlying vulnerability to her that I don't necessarily play too often."

Beth and Rip are the ultimate TV couple

Kelly Reilly as Beth Dutton and Cole Hauser as Rip Wheeler on 'Yellowstone'

Photo via Paramount Network

The only thing Yellowstone fans love more than Beth herself is her relationship with Rip. After the two met as teenagers when John Dutton brought Rip to work on the ranch, the stars aligned, and it was clear they had found something special. Granted, it didn't last, and it took years for them to come back together. But it seems like it was definitely worth the wait as they finally tied the knot in season 4 and now have a new adventure of married life ahead of them.

During an interview with Esquire, Reilly reflected on Beth and Rip's relationship and speculated over whether Beth's 'domestic quiet' can continue. Is it too good to be true? In a series where you never know what could go wrong, fans are definitely nervous about the future of this popular couple.

"I see those moments of happiness for Beth, especially in Season Three. At the beginning of season three, there is a sort of quiet, healing vibe going on," Reilly continued. "Beth and Rip (Cole Hauser) are living in the new house that they've been given, that John Dutton (Kevin Costner) gave to Rip. Beth has moved in and there's a little bit of domestic quiet, gentleness that's sort of creeping in which we've never seen Beth inhabit. I found those scenes really interesting to play. Whether it lasts or not, it wouldn't be a drama if it was constant. I don't think that we're at the happy ending stage yet, but I think there's a glimmer of happiness and where that happiness and where that peace could live, you know what I mean?"

READ MORE: 'Yellowstone' Gear for the Biggest Kayce and Beth Dutton Fans

This article was originally published in July of 2020. It was updated on Nov. 4, 2022. 

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