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Yellowstone

Playing Yellowstone’s Beth Dutton Gives Kelly Reilly Real-Life Strength

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Fans of “Yellowstone” are understandably bummed out that the megapopular series is coming to an end, with the final part of its last season airing sometime in November. However, this does not indicate the end of the “Yellowstone” expanded universe, as a ton of prequels and spin-offs — including the much-anticipated “1944” and “6666” — along with an untitled sequel series are currently in the works. The Dutton family saga seems to have a chokehold on dedicated fans of the franchise, and the various entries go back and forth in time to paint a comprehensive picture of the family’s era-spanning legacy.

Kelly Reilly’s Beth Dutton has been a staple of the mothership series since its first aired, and her character is known for being loyal to the family cause despite having little to no interest in the ranch. Beth used to be one of the brightest at Schwartz & Meyer, one of Montana’s leading banks, and she loses her job at some point, but that does not stop her from being a formidable force wherever she goes. The Duttons are known for protecting their legacy, no matter what the cost, and Beth emerges as a fierce enforcer of this family value, having never struggled to “belong,” as most of the characters in “Yellowstone” often do.

In an interview with IndieWire, Reilly talked about Beth in great detail, explaining how the character’s brutal dedication to the cause provides her with real-life strength, and the possible directions she would want Beth to go when the final segment of season 5 airs.

A force to reckon with

Beth, like many of the Duttons, is an anti-hero. There are no pretenses or some misguided sense of morality when it comes to Beth — even as a businesswoman, she is immune to pleas of mercy when she squares off against a competitor and is hell-bent on winning. In the latest season, Beth is nowhere near a “redemption arc,” and frankly, she does not need one, as the core of who she is shines best when she embodies her authenticity, no matter how caustic or damaging it is to those around her. While she has no real interest in the ranch life, she won’t give up on it either, as she is painfully aware of the value that this piece of land holds for the Duttons, and the expectations she needs to fulfill.

However, this does not mean that the massive burden of upholding legacy does not weigh heavily on her. There is no true sense of personal autonomy when you’re a Dutton, and you’re only useful as long as you’re aligned with familial duty and sanctioned transgressions. Reilly comments that Beth cannot chase “her own happiness”, as it would be at loggerheads with the massive weight of expectations placed on her. Reilly also talked about the “complicated” and “intense” nature of her character:

“She’s complicated. She’s quite intense. There is a particular headspace [to get into] and she’s in so much pain. Most of the time it’s a lot of fun playing Beth. I get to say things that I would never get to say; she doesn’t have a filter. She’s fearless, she’s reckless, she’s funny, sometimes. She’s irreverent. She’s brave. She’s unapologetic. She’s also brutal. She’s also mean as f***, and some of that stuff is not always pleasant.”

Imparting strength

Although Beth is still loyal to the fire that fuels her within, season 5 saw some changes to her character — she is less guarded when it comes to opening up, and more receptive to being gentler with those around her (within reason, of course). Beth has grown closer to Summer (Pier Perabo), an environmental activist who is currently serving the rest of her sentence at the ranch, and the two have begun to share an interesting dynamic where they’re more emotionally open with one another.

For someone who is always on her guard and ready to fight anyone she deems a threat, this is a welcome development and imparts more layers to an already complex character. However, this juncture in her relationship with Summer is also hard-earned, as the latter had to prove her worth in a literal physical fight with Beth, who always fights dirty. Reilly touched upon the positive aspects of Beth, and why she feels personally inspired by her strength:

“I think about her a lot. About who she is and why she is the way she is. I have to love her to play her and there are days where I don’t, and there are days where I really do. She’s really invigorating and talks about backbone. She’s really lent a hand in giving me a backbone in my own life that I didn’t necessarily have before, or certainly didn’t own, or think that as a woman you could own that level of strength, real strength, not borrowed, not pretend.”

While Beth is surely a challenging character to play, this is what makes embodying her so special for Reilly, who wants her to grow as a person by the time “Yellowstone” ends. Frankly, so do we.

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