“Women won’t like her”: Kelly Reilly Execs Wanted Beth Toned Down in Yellowstone

Before creating the hit Paramount series Yellowstone, creator Taylor Sheridan had originally pitched the show to executives at HBO. However, negotiations with the network ultimately fell through, largely due to major creative differences over the character of Beth Dutton.

HBO Demanded Changes to Lead Character

HBO Demanded Changes to Lead Character

In an interview last week, Sheridan revealed that HBO executives wanted significant changes made to Beth, played by Kelly Reilly. Describing their feedback, he said: “They wanted me to tone down the character and make her more likable. Their exact words were ‘Women won’t like her.'”

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Sheridan pushed back on these demands, unwilling to alter Beth’s fierce, confrontational nature which he saw as core to her character. “I said ‘with all due respect, I don’t give a shit if women like her. It’s important that this character exists out there because people like this exist.'”

Beth’s “Fearlessness” Resonated with Viewers

Sticking to his vision paid off for Sheridan. Since premiering on Paramount in 2018, Beth has become one of Yellowstone’s most popular characters. Fans have embraced her ruthless, take-no-prisoners attitude and complicated relationship with her father John Dutton.

Beth's "Fearlessness" Resonated with Viewers

Kelly Reilly, who plays Beth, believes it’s the character’s authenticity that makes her so appealing. “I think a lot of people enjoy her fearlessness and wish they could be more like that themselves,” she said recently.

Sheridan Trusted His Instincts

If Sheridan had conceded to the demands from HBO executives, Beth likely would have been a very different character onscreen. Thankfully, he stuck to his guns and held out for a network that would allow him to bring his complete original vision to life.

“You have to trust your instincts,” Sheridan has said of the experience. “Beth was always going to be controversial, but I knew that creating an honest, complex female character was more important than pleasing everyone.”

Three smash hit seasons later, it’s clear Sheridan made the right call refusing to “tone down” the fiery, complicated Beth Dutton that audiences have grown to love.

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