‘Yellowstone’ Star Kylie Rogers on Young Beth Flashbacks and Owning Her Character (Exclusive)
For 24 seconds, not a word is uttered in the opening scene of season 1, episode 3 of Yellowstone. It’s a flashback scene, the first time viewers are transported back in time to help make sense of what shaped the Dutton family.
More specifically, it’s the first time fans get the opportunity to witness a young Beth Dutton in all her sensibilities, a stark contrast to the sharp-tongued and hardened wild spirit she grows up to be, skillfully portrayed by Kelly Reilly.
Playing an awkward yet vulnerable young Beth is no easy task, but Kylie Rogers puts on a masterclass in “No Good Horses.” Because there’s no dialogue, Rogers is tasked with conveying young Beth’s angst with mere body language. Her performance is subtle, but exquisite.
There’s an uneasiness and profound sense of fear that washes over young Beth in that opening scene. She’s stiff, both hands holding a tight grip on the reins while riding horses next to her mother, Evelyn (Gretchen Mol), and younger brother, Kayce (Rhys Alterman), on the famed Montana ranch. When her horse trips, albeit lightly, Beth becomes jittery. Her shoulders tense up. She steals a glance at her mother, who is almost gliding next to her, but Mom’s none the wiser to her jumpiness. Beth’s horse then nearly bumps into her mother’s. Beth nervously shifts her horse away. But Kayce, who had fallen behind, kicks his horse into gear and pulls up next to Beth, and this only heightens her apprehensiveness.
“Kayce, stop it!” Beth cries out to break the tension.
“He’s doing what you should be doing — enjoying himself,” Evelyn barks back. “You’d think I’d ask you to paint a goddamn fence.”
“Poor damn thing is scared of everything,” Beth deduces, but that doesn’t fly with mother.
“No, horse is only scared of what you’re scared of,” Evelyn explains. “You’re scared of everything and now he is, too.”
After getting scolded by her mother (“Whole world just waiting on you, Beth. Like always.”), Beth is given a cruel front-row seat to the traumatizing event that would define her — Evelyn’s eventual death after falling off her horse and cracking the back of her head. Kayce, still a young boy, springs into action as Beth cries uncontrollably. And after Kayce offers to get help, it’s Beth who’s tasked with shouldering the burden, not because she’s more adept, but because “it’s her fault.”
It’s this scene when Rogers sets the ground rules for young Beth — make the character her own.
“I think the main thing that I try to focus on since the beginning with Beth — and I’ve talked about this with Kelly — is just to keep in mind that I’m not, especially when I was younger, it was more so about you’re not playing Beth,” says Rogers in a phone interview with ET. “I’m being Beth as a child. It was more so focusing on showing the more softer, innocent, less jaded side of Beth at first, and experiencing her traumas and portraying that growth into what she becomes.”
An argument could be made that the flashback scenes on Yellowstone are the most mesmerizing parts of the hit Paramount Network show (and very well could explain why Yellowstone prequels 1883 and 1923 are so alluring), largely in part because creator Taylor Sheridan offers up his playbook and reveals what went into forming such complex characters.
In young Beth, Rogers undoubtedly understood the assignment with her deft portrayal.
“I think mainly, specifically for Beth, she’s sort of a very misunderstood character within the show. A lot of people sort of don’t really see her for what she is or what she’s gone through,” the 18-year-old actress explains. “So, a lot of the emotional and trauma scenes that I have to portray on the show is about just trying to understand where Beth came from, the way she is now as an adult and how she got there as a child. It’s really helpful getting to see Beth as an adult and how these traumas affected her, so then I can accurately sort of act out her reactions as a younger version.”
Young Beth and young Rip Wheeler (Kyle Red Silverstein) meet for the first time in season 2, episode 5 (“Touching Your Enemy”). In this flashback scene, fans get a peek into who Beth will become — conniving yet hypnotizing. It was such a transformative moment, Reilly (present-day Beth) felt she had to witness it herself.
In the scene, young Beth orders young Rip not to catch the horse that bucked off her mother. Young Rip asks why not, to which young Beth responds, “Don’t want him caught. That’s the horse that killed my mother.”
“Why not put him down or sell him?” young Rip asks.
“You’re applying logic to a situation where there isn’t one,” young Beth replies.
Young Rip is befuddled.
“I don’t know what that means,” he says.
“You know, even then, Beth can eat him alive,” Reilly explains in a “Behind the Story” segment of Yellowstone. “Not in her sexuality but just in her mind. Like, she can sum him up in a way and say things to him that just go over his head. But somehow on a soul level they connect, and it’s an odd meeting of souls, but it works.”
“At this point, we’ve probably known each other for four or five years, which is helpful and very special,” she says of Silverstein. “I’m sure we have our individual processes that we don’t really talk about together, but I think it just helps as much because he also isn’t trying to be Rip [portrayed by Cole Hauser]. He’s a young Rip, but he does it so beautifully and so raw, Kyle does. He’s so talented. So, it’s just so easy to play off that and be the different versions of Beth and Rip.”
As much as everyone’s in awe of her whiskey-chugging, fire-spitting, show-no-mercy persona as present-day Beth, Reilly also marvels at Rogers’ ability to hone young Beth and make her so distinctive.
“You start to see where the hardness has kicked in because the last time we saw her, she’s crying,” says Reilly of Rogers’ transformation. “She’s lost and she’s terrified [in season 1] and then you start to see the beginnings of the monster.”
Reilly adds, “I was there on the day, actually [when young Beth and young Rip meet for the first time]. I really wanted to be there and watch it, witness it. Kylie, who plays young Beth, is so talented. She really embodies this spirit pre-me. I remember when I talked to her, I’d say, ‘Yes, you’ve seen season 1, but she’s not formed yet. When you play her, don’t do an impression of what I’m doing.'”
Fans and actors alike are fascinated by the flashback scenes.
“Anytime you can flash back and show the early stages of Rip and Beth, I think it’s a win,” Hauser says.
Rogers is almost 19 but already with a star-studded resume that includes working alongside Russell Crowe (Fathers & Daughters), Jennifer Garner (Miracles From Heaven), Will Smith (Collateral Beauty), Gabrielle Union (Cheaper by the Dozen) and, more recently, Tiffany Haddish in Landscape With Invincible Hand. She’s also been added to the upcoming horror filmBeau Is Afraid, starring Joaquin Phoenix.
But as her star shines brighter and brighter in Hollywood, here’s hoping she heads back to Montana for more flashback scenes when the second half of season 5 of Yellowstone resumes this summer.
“I think there’s definitely some more flashbacks to expect and be excited for,” Rogers tells ET. “It’s definitely going to be an interesting rest of the season, for sure, I can say that.”
Present-day Beth and her father, John Dutton (Kevin Costner), have such an unbreakable bond. It’s on display throughout just about every episode. She’d die for him. But if there’s one story or revelation yet to be told in the form of a flashback scene, it’s what served as the spark plug and catalyst for such a bond. To see young Beth and young John Dutton (Josh Lucas) form that bond in a flashback scene would be charming, to say the least. No word yet on whether that’s in the works, but Rogers would be on board.
“I really hope so. I actually am not positive on that one, but I would love to see that because that’s one of my favorite relationships that Beth forms on the way to healing herself as an adult, is just being so close with her dad and getting so much support from him,” says Rogers, who is less than a month away from celebrating her 19th birthday. “So, I hope so.”
The second half of season 5 of Yellowstone resumes this summer on Paramount Network.