As Yellowstone‘s most consistent Market Equities presence, John Emmet Tracy has shared the screen with Kelly Reilly for three seasons now. And what a wild ride it’s been, both for audiences and the actors involved.
We first met Tracy’s resolute representative, Ellis Steele, in Season 3. Way back when, Market Equities was just entering Montana with dreams of acquiring Dutton land. Their goal? Build a state-altering airport, hotel, and resort of grandiose proportions. Several ME bigwigs have come and gone as Yellowstone antagonists since (more on that here), yet one character has remained constant in their fight against the Yellowstone, and we have John Emmet Tracy’s performance to thank.
Of all the foes Tracy’s steely lawyer has faced, however, none compare to Beth Dutton. The most popular character on television’s most popular show, Beth is a venerable showcase for London-born Kelly Reilly. Yellowstone made both Reilly and her character household names, and she’s gained immense respect from her co-stars in the process right from the get-go.
“It was exciting to feel that sort of momentum build,” Tracy says of joining Yellowstone with the third season and acting with Reilly. “Seeing what people were saying online about it, before my episodes even aired, I thought ‘Wow, this is really something.’ And you sort of know that when you’re on set with Kevin Costner,” he adds of their iconic co-star.
“But when you see the work that Kelly Reilly is doing, when you get to work and you watch her go, you think ‘Okay, this is something completely different here.’ She’s on a different level,” Tracy lauds.
Shakespeare is Common Ground for ‘Yellowstone’s John Emmet Tracy, Kelly Reilly, and Taylor Sheridan
Both Tracy and Reilly have extensive Shakespearian backgrounds, too, to say the least. Each made a name for themselves as thespians performing the Bard’s work long before Taylor Sheridan came calling.
Many have compared Sheridan’s take on the Modern Western as, instead, a Shakespearian turn on the genre, making both actors a perfect fit. For Tracy, this means keeping Ellis Steele “cool-as-a-cucumber” amidst larger-than-life characters.
“I would never speak for Taylor Sheridan, but if you’ve read or seen interviews with him, he references Shakespeare quite a bit,” Tracy reveals of the Yellowstone co-creator. “In fact, just a few weeks ago, we were with him at his ranch in Texas, and just in a private conversation he was discussing Shakespeare with me. I think it’s safe to say that it’s something that compels him, and I dare say that he is a fan of Shakespeare himself.”
“And I’m going to go ahead and say it, I can compare these two writers in the way that they’re both able to explore these grand macro, massive storylines and themes. Legacy and heritage, frontiers in relationships and frontiers in land,” Tracy lauds. “But then they also go down into the tiny details, and they can notice very specific things.”
From the bird that lands on the future grave of Lee Dutton (Dave Annable) in the pilot, to the mirroring of this for Elsa Dutton’s grave in 1883, to the “minute details of mending a fence” over to the intricacies of character relationships, “It’s very similar in how each can go from the macro to the micro in seconds – and still be entertaining,” he commends.
‘Lady Macbeth has a bitterness in her. I’m not sure Beth has that bitterness’
As for Kelly Reilly, she’s found ample comparison between her time in both Yellowstone and Shakespearian plays, too. “I talk about Beth as a powerful, dangerous woman. And Lady Macbeth is that, but Lady Macbeth has a bitterness in her. I’m not sure Beth has that bitterness,” she told Vulture earlier this year.
Audiences watching Yellowstone Season 5 may disagree. But to Reilly, “Beth is so alive,” instead. “I don’t think it’s necessarily about vengeance, but more, ‘If you come up against me or anything that I care about and love, I will destroy you,’” she retorts of her Dutton daughter.
“It’s more active – it’s more American. It’s less sitting in her room, manipulating, thinking of ways she could f*ck someone over. And Beth only does that to people she believes deserve it.”