‘Yellowstone’ TV: Meet Gretchen Mol, the Actor Who Portrays John Dutton’s Deceased Wife Evelyn

by Jon D. B.

“Mothers are harder to forgive than fathers.” From Boardwalk Empire to Yellowstone, Gretchen Mol has made a career out of fascinating matriarchs.

In an excellent sit-down with TVInsider, Gretchen Mol delved deep into the late Evelyn Dutton. “I was happy to illuminate the character [of the mother] in this story,” she says within. As the series progresses, Mol’s work as Evelyn slowly unravels the trauma that sits at the heart of the Duttons. Specifically for Kelly Reilly’s troubled Beth Dutton, her only daughter. Alongside the husband she leaves behind, Kevin Costner’s John Dutton, of course.

Through flashbacks, Mol’s brilliance brings a stalwart, sharp edge to Evelyn. She’s a woman who’s been the victim of emotional abuse, the actor says. Through this she uses a deep, “misguided love” to shape the Beth Dutton we come to know as an adult. And this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Mol play such a role.

If you’ve watched HBO’s phenomenal Steve Buscemi-led Boardwalk Empire, then you know Gretchen Mol as Gillian Darmody: the dangerous, overly-devoted mother-turned murderer. Years later, Mol brought much of the same unstable energy to Evelyn on Yellowstone. Is this archetype something that lends itself to the actor’s past? Or is she just that good at playing such malevolent matriarchs?

Born on November 8, 1972 in Deep River, Connecticut, Gretchen Mol is the daughter of two teachers. Her mother, Janet, is also an artist. Mol spent her youth performing in school theatres and would go on to graduate from William Esper Studio. After a move to Hell’s Kitchen to pursue her craft, she would be discovered whilst working in a restaurant – and an incredible career in both Hollywood and modeling would follow.

‘Yellowstone’s Gretchen Mol: ‘It Feels Like Misguided Love’

As she made a name for herself, Mol would appear in Rounders and Celebrity in 1998. The Thirteenth Floor came the next year, with 2005’s The Notorious Bettie Page putting her on the map as the title character.

From then on, she would give phenomenal, edgy turns in everything from 3:10 to Yuma (2007) to Manchester by the Sea (2016). And then Taylor Sheridan came a’knocking.

“I got this call… ‘Do you want to be involved in this show with Taylor Sheridan?’” Mol tells TVInsider. “I had just watched Wind River and it was really me just wanting to be a part of whatever he was creating because I knew there’d be good characters [in Yellowstone].”

From there, Gretchen Mol says she “spoke with Taylor and we talked about who Evelyn was and I was really interested.”

As she got to know Evelyn Dutton, Mol says there was a distinct “shift.”

“When I received the material, I thought, this feels loving but then there’s a shift. This is Evelyn’s idea of love but it’s coming from a place of cruelty that she probably experienced herself,” she eludes to her character’s own childhood.

For the Yellowstone star, her Evelyn says to daughter Beth: “I don’t want to do this to you but I have to. It’s how I became who I am. You have to be tough and you’re going to hate me for it.”

In the end, and as a parent herself, Mol says, “It feels like misguided love…. Evelyn definitely does damage.”

All too true. Yellowstone returns for Season 4 come Fall 2021.