The Untold Truth Of Kelly Reilly

Kelly Reilly is an international hit thanks to her role in the American Western "Yellowstone," where she plays Beth Dutton, daughter to Kevin Costner's character, John Dutton. The Paramount Network series first aired in 2018 and fans haven't been able to get enough of the series ever since — and part of that has to do with Beth. In an interview with ET, Reilly herself called the character a "beast," noting that stepping into the role was no small assignment. "I keep her locked up in a box with a padlock," Reilly joked of Beth, adding that her "Yellowstone" character is "the most challenging role" she's ever played, without a doubt.

Reilly admitted that she's "far removed from Beth" when it comes to who she is off screen. In the real world, the actor is way more shy and far more gentle than our bodacious Beth and she's had a long acting career before winding her way into the world of cowboy hats and rifles. The "Yellowstone" star has come a long way and she's had some adventures to get to where she is now. While she might not have as many physical scars as Beth does, Reilly has certainly earned her stripes.

Kelly Reilly's 'normal suburban' childhood

Kelly Reilly grew up in Chessington, a region in Greater London, England. Her childhood was remarkably ordinary, with parents working blue-collar jobs. "I don't have any upper-class breeding in me whatsoever," Reilly told the Evening Standard in 2012. "My dad was a police officer — he retired last year — and my mother works as a receptionist at the antenatal clinic in Kingston Hospital."

Reilly has certainly played the upper crust through her characters — she was Caroline Bingley, after all, in the 2005 adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" — but that social elitism doesn't come naturally to her. "I've met upper-class people... and I find it hard to have any sympathy for them, because it's as if they're living in a bubble," she told the outlet "Maybe that's how I see it because I'm a working-class-girl, but I think that attitude displays a gross kind of naïveté."

Reilly called her childhood home a "very normal suburban household" in an interview with Netribution in 2000, adding that the ordinariness of her life made acting seem out of the question. "But I never, ever, ever, in my wildest dreams, thought that I could be an actor because I come from a working-class family," she said. Academically, Reilly wasn't a stand-out — except when it came to drama, according to The Telegraph. This was her wheelhouse and she latched onto it.

Confidence helped launch Kelly Reilly's career

Through drama class at school, Kelly Reilly got her first taste of acting, thanks to a perceptive teacher who noticed Reilly's shyness and her lack of interest in the rest of her classes. Speaking of this instructor, Reilly told the Evening Standard, "He put me in his wife's drama group — and suddenly I was reading Chekhov and Shakespeare. My world suddenly became much more exciting."

Once immersed in this world, Reilly told Netribution of hearing of an acquaintance who'd been involved with a showcase. Thanks to the innocence of youth and a little healthy ego, Reilly, as a teenager, "wrote off a letter to the artistic director saying, 'Please, please see me. I'm 16 years old, I'm great, I think you really need to see me and it would be a loss if you don't.'" Before she knew it, Reilly landed an audition as well as an agent and got onto "Prime Suspect." She said of the letter, "That's how it started."

While still just a teenager, Reilly moved to London and began a new life. "So I thought I'm 17, let me have a go," Reilly said of that chunk of time. "I'll see what happens. I got episodes on TV, that was then and I never went back." In hindsight, Reilly called it the "scariest thing" she's ever done, but it was clearly the right move.

Kelly Reilly didn't go to a drama school

You'd never know it from her performances, but Kelly Reilly never received training at a formal acting school. "I wanted to go to drama school, my drama teachers were very keen that you go and learn your craft, but I didn't have the money to do it, that was one, and I was getting more work," she told Netribution. It's a fair point. If she's already getting acting gigs anyway, why pause to go to take classes? "Working with other actors was my training," she told The Guardian.

But Reilly shared that this brought on some self-consciousness early on in her career. "Because I didn't go to drama school, I really was aware this wasn't a world I just easily fell into. ... I never felt my feet were under the table, so to speak," she said in The Scotsman.

What's more, she took daunting theater parts without having a background in the script. Case in point: Reilly was cast as Desdemona in the "Othello" production put on by the ultra prestigious Donmar Warehouse without having much prior experience with the works of the Bard of Avon. "Shakespeare was basically for the bright kids," she told The Telegraph. As the outlet noted, her work in the show earned her a nod for an Olivier award — an achievement she doesn't take lightly. "So, to be counted among some of those actresses... It doesn't get better than that," she said.

Kelly Reilly's a theater person at heart

While we may know Kelly Reilly for her on-screen performances best, the actor earned her chops in the theater world — and she loves the live audience element. "[Y]ou can do a show for nine months and it will be different every night because the audience react differently to things," she told Netribution.

In 2015, Reilly found herself on Broadway, acting in the Harold Pinter play "Old Times" and spoke about what a dream it was to be acting in the United States. "To be a London stage actor, in New York, it really is something that's very special. [It's] a dream that I have always had," she shared with PIX11.

So what's the difference between theater and film? For Reilly, it's the fragmented nature of filming that can be frustrating as an actor. "You'll get to do a little bit of a scene one day, and then you have to wrap because it's the end of the day and you might not get around to it for the next few days," she explained to Netribution. "Sometimes there isn't enough time to do the detail that you can do when you're doing a play, so there are different frustrations I think in both of them." For Reilly, working in front of the camera is an animal all its own. "You can have a great day's filming and then you can have a terrible day and never want to do anymore filming ever again," she said.

She believes she's 'lucky'

While Kelly Reilly might love theater best of all, she isn't one to complain about a job, be it film, TV, or theater. Early on in her career, she explained how work ethic and taking jobs was more important than elitism about art.

"I think nowadays, especially young actors, we're grateful for any work we can get, without sounding desperate," she told Netribution in 2000. "Of course you would rather do a huge film than be in EastEnders, that goes without saying, but if you need to pay the rent you're going to do that episode of Casualty. If you're worth your salt as an actor, I don't think people hold that against you. I certainly wouldn't hold it against anybody or go, 'Oh God, how could you let your art down?'"

Nine years later, and that much further into her career, Reilly told The Scotsman that she was well aware of her fortunate position. "I know I'm one of the lucky ones," she said. "Believe me, I know. Some of my best friends are actors and they're not working, and they really should be because they're really talented."

Half joking, Reilly said that it's hard on budding actors because the established ones get all the parts. "So when I moan and go, 'Oh, it's the same faces (starring in everything]', that's me!" 

The Yellowstone actor is a horse girl

Fitting for her role as Beth Dutton in "Yellowstone," Kelly Reilly has always been wild for horses. In fact, the only thing that lured her away from a life of working with horses was showbiz. She told the Evening Standard, "I used to go and work in a yard in Epsom — I couldn't afford a horse, but I kind of adopted one and spent a lot of time with him. It was an obsession — and if I hadn't discovered acting I wouldn't be here talking to you."

Reilly's love of horses came in handy for "Yellowstone." Ironically though, her character is one of the few who doesn't spend a lot of time on horses, which Reilly pointed out in a December 2021 interview with WFAA. "I grew up riding," she said, "but I'm the only character that doesn't really ride in the show."

Evidently, Reilly only gets a chance to get in the saddle when she's not on the clock. "If I had some free time, I would get out west and I would go riding," she told Parade in July 2018. "It's always been where I get my head screwed back on — just being in nature and being on horses. So being in the world of Montana whilst also doing a job, I'm so like passionate about, it was a perfect fit for me." For a horse lover, it doesn't get any better than "Yellowstone."

Kelly Reilly has thoughts on corsets

While Kelly Reilly doesn't always have to get rigged up into intense costumes, she has starred in several period pieces that require uncomfortable, antiquated outfits. When Reilly starred as Desdemona in the theater production of "Othello," for example, her ensemble was not particularly easy to wear. "When you first put on a corset it's like someone just sucked all the air out of your body and you're talking like that," she told The Scotsman, talking in a high voice. "You feel you can't sit down, you can't walk, and God forbid you'd want to eat anything."

But Reilly used the discomfort for the complicated role of Desdemona. "And because that was on stage, night after night, you really need to be able to have your lungs expand," she noted. "And I found the corset, that tension, was really good. You used it for the role."

Learning to use this tension was something that Reilly picked up on when surrounded by other actors, and unlike Beth Dutton, her character in "Yellowstone," preciousness and outspokenness don't come naturally to her. "I was introverted about what acting meant to me," Reilly shared with The Guardian. "It was so magical and private. I am a slow worker, incredibly diligent. I'm getting faster now but then I'd sit at the back of the class until I could find my voice." So even uncomfortable corsets became a tool to get into character. Seems like Reilly knows how to spin straw into gold.

Acting helped Kelly Reilly overcome pain

Acting didn't just bring Kelly Reilly a paycheck and worldwide recognition. It also helped her overcome personal struggles. "This job has definitely toughened me up," she said in The Scotsman. "I remember doing a play called Piano Forte at (London's] Royal Court about three years ago, and I'd just come out of a really terrible break-up. And I was feeling really fragile. And this character I was about to play was not fragile. She was the strongest character I've ever played."

She went on to note that taking on a role with such a "powerful and strong" side of the character "can really help out in your private life." She continued, "You can borrow things from characters. Because you go to a different place in your head that's not you. And it can invigorate — as well as being difficult."

But Reilly's characters are inspirational to others as well, not just herself. When speaking to ET about playing Beth Dutton in "Yellowstone," Reilly remarked that women all over the world resonated with her incredible spirit and ferociousness. "There's something about [Beth] that's really empowered a lot of women," she said. "I think it's just being able to say those things without any fear of retribution. No one can come back at Beth." In addition to bringing courage to her own life through her acting, Reilly's inspiring audiences, too.

The totally false scandal involving Kelly Reilly

When Kelly Reilly played the character Mary Morstan in Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes," she was unfairly dragged into a behind-the-scenes scandal. In October 2008, Madonna filed for divorce from Ritchie and the split was made official the following month — and that all happened to be around when filming began on "Sherlock Holmes." The rumor mill started churning, and it wasn't long before people began to erroneously speculate that the director's split from Madge was due to a supposed affair between the former and Reilly. 

Reilly recalled the story to The Telegraph, saying, "I had done one day's filming with him and said, 'Hello, how are you?' We'd talked about a scene and before you knew it there were press on my parents' doorstep going, 'So, I hear that Kelly's the reason for the divorce.'"

As she told The Guardian in 2011, she ended up taking the matter to court. "And I won because it was completely made up," she said. While she was able to laugh about it in hindsight, she didn't like the harm the rumor caused. "I let it affect me because it was embarrassing," she said. "Not with regard to Guy — to be honest, I couldn't care less what he thought, he's used to it! But I had people ringing me up saying: 'What's this about you and...' It hurts people you love. I was in a relationship." 

Kelly Reilly's feelings about Los Angeles

After spending years in a quiet neighborhood in England, Kelly Reilly ended up making the great pilgrimage known to so many actors: the move to Los Angeles. While Reilly was obviously excited about her blossoming career, the trek to California wasn't as sunny as one might guess. "I was terrified of [Los Angeles]," Reilly told The Telegraph, noting that she wasn't into the "networking," "competitiveness," or "ageism" one may run into when trying to make it in Hollywood.

But Reilly ended up warming to the famous city, and Lord knows she had to, since it's where the work happens to be. While living in Los Angeles, she said, "There are hardly any actors left in England right now as they're all over here." While the City of Angels was daunting at first, Reilly's into living in the United States. "I certainly love the country of the west. I love Montana, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming," Reilly told Parade in 2018. However, as much as she may appreciate the Wild West, she shared with the outlet that she resides in New York — and she seems content with living on this particular side of the pond.

"I work mostly in the States and I still work back home," she said. "But for the past eight years now, I've pretty much worked here non-stop. So, it makes sense to me to go up for roles that are based in America." Talk about making something work.

Privacy is a priority for Kelly Reilly

Kelly Reilly deeply loves her privacy and the commotion and dazzle that goes with celebrity doesn't really suit her. During her interview with The Scotsman, she was getting ready for a premiere later that evening so her team was busy getting ready for it in the background and the journalist noted: "She's embarrassed by the fuss."

This theme of privacy is one that comes up over the years with Reilly. She once explained to The Guardian that the ability to escape is paramount for her line of work. "I think when you're an actor and you're drawing on your emotions all the time you need to be quite steady," she said. "You need to be able to separate yourself. I don't want to be a neurotic or crazy. I have a nice, normal life and I couldn't live in this world all the time. Sometimes, I think I could disappear quite easily but then again it's my job and I love it."

While Reilly sure seems to enjoy doing this for a living, she's also not completely taken with every element of the gig. In a refreshingly candid moment, she said, "There is a part of me that is not fulfilled by acting. It is a self-involved life, it can feel shallow, but not very often. I know there'll be a day when I'll want to have a family — and I know that life takes precedence over my work." For Reilly, this is what's important.

Kelly Reilly, the 'serial monogamist'

When it comes to Kelly Reilly's relationships, she's a self-described "serial monogamist." She told The Telegraph, "I was with someone for five years, then six years... My first boyfriend was a gardener but I've only really been with people who are in the business." Reilly explained why this is essential to her. "I think I need someone who understands an artist's mentality. I couldn't be with someone who wouldn't let me have my freedom." She added, "This doesn't mean I don't want to settle down, but my life will always be filled a sense of adventure, the sense of the unknown — that makes me very happy."

The "Yellowstone" star was previously linked to actors JJ Field and Jonah Lotan, according to Parade. While her previous relationships may suggest she only dates people who work in the acting field, Reilly ended up marrying financier Kyle Baugher. The two tied the knot in England and reside together in New York. As Parade notes, they moved along quickly, meeting in 2012, and getting engaged and married in the same year.

Typical of her notoriously private self, Reilly rarely shares photos of Baugher and, according to Parade, it's unclear if the couple has any children. But hey, she doesn't have to share everything with us.

How much is Kelly Reilly worth?

All of this hard work has really paid off for Kelly Reilly. She's sitting at a net worth of $5 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. While her specific salary for "Yellowstone" is unclear (Cinema Blend speculates that she makes around $200,000 an episode), we know that Paramount Network has a huge budget for the program.

Reilly's co-star Kevin Costner, who plays her father, John Dutton, makes $500,000 an episode, an extraordinary amount for a series. Executive Kevin Kay explained to The Hollywood Reporter why they dolled out such high salaries: "The statement we wanted to make was that we're open for business and we're willing to pay top-tier actors whatever their quotes are. It sends a message and that's what we want to do." So we can safely assume that Reilly is getting well compensated for the tall order of playing Beth Dutton.

As "Yellowstone" continues to be the stunning success that it is, we have no doubt that Reilly's net worth will grow, as will her exposure and with that comes more parts. Hey, if she can play Desdemona, Caroline Bingly, and the beast Beth Dutton, Reilly can do anything.