‘Yellowstone’ Season 5 Cast Preview Feuds, Revenge & John as Governor

7 min read

Spoiler alert: This article previews plot details from the first episode of Season 5 of “Yellowstone.”

“Yellowstone” Season 5 has almost arrived and the Dutton family has decided to let bygones be bygones and work together to save their ranch. Just kidding! The non-stop drama and scheming is back with a political bent, now that patriarch John Dutton (Kevin Costner) has become the nation’s grumpiest governor. While the time between seasons skipped over his election campaign, John obviously won by a landslide — aided by his two politically-minded children, the heroic Beth (Kelly Reilly) and sniveling Jamie (Wes Bentley). Meanwhile, Beth’s husband Rip (Cole Hauser) and other brother Kayce (Luke Grimes) are off doing cowboy stuff. Yee-haw!

Ahead of the supersized season premiere, Variety spoke with Reilly, Bentley and Hauser about some of this season’s key strategic moves, how creator Taylor Sheridan’s writing is the lifeblood of the show, and the moments that resonate most with fans.

How will John’s governorship impact your character?

Reilly: Beth thinks that on the political side of it, her father becoming governor is a necessary evil. Sadly, it’s the plight of saving and preserving this land by keeping the dogs at bay who want it. This is the only way that they can protect it. I think actually there’s more layered to it as well. I think she’s really proud of him. He is a fourth-generation Montanan — they are Montana. There is the pride in seeing her father take on this role, and nothing gives Beth more joy than really socking it to the enemy, and her father doing this is going to do that. She’s proud of him for that.

Bentley: Jamie doesn’t have a plan for the first time ever. He’s always had a plan, he’s always had ambition. He’s out, but he always thought this weird arrangement his dad made him do by being a lawyer was eventually leading to something like the governorship. That would provide some independence and some power of his own. So he’s willing to put up with all that. But now that’s gone, and I think he’s only realizing that’s never going to happen. It never was going to happen. He’s got nothing. He’s full of anger. He wants revenge. He wants something. But I think he realizes that’s not going to happen, so maybe something does come along that helps him out of this mess. But at this moment he’s done for, despite his rage.

Hauser: With John becoming the governor, Rip’s thrusted into the position of running a ranch. Now he’s the foreman, not just running the bunkhouse, which has been his thing in the past. He’s actually looking at the whole scope of it, and what’s really cool in the way that Taylor wrote it this year is that he gives the opportunity for Rip to not necessarily fall on his face, but to make mistakes. John’s not there for him to be able to bounce ideas off of. So it’s throughout the year and the season you you get to see him learning on his feet how to run this enormous ranch with a ton of responsibility.

What would happiness mean for your character?

Hauser: I mean, that’s not the way Taylor writes it. It’s not the way it’s ever been. And I think it would be pretty boring anyway to see [Rip and Beth] totally at peace, you know what I mean? What, do you put them on a fuckin’ island in Tahiti with a couple of fuckin’ straws in their drinks? It’s not what people want to see. So I think you gotta keep it interesting and Taylor’s done a great job in five seasons of doing that.

Reilly: I think happiness is something that Taylor’s dropping in little tidbits along the way. I think there are some moments in this season where you see what that might look like for Beth. Whether he’s going to give that to her, I don’t know. But I think that’s the point: There would be no drama if they were all happy and there was no adversaries and there was no pain and tragedy. We’re all aware that these characters exist in this heightened world and the stakes are quite high and there’s a lot of things to overcome. You know how Beth feels about therapy, and I don’t think healing is going to happen overnight with her. Taylor’s cut the foundation of the riverbed quite heavy with pain and it’s such a great motivator and reason for why they’re doing things.

Whats the most challenging part of playing your character?

Reilly: I think the most difficult part of this character for me is keeping her real. Some of the things Taylor has her doing and saying, I always have to stay tethered to, it sounds sort of glib and obvious, an internal world of truth. So I’m always keeping an eye on, ‘How do I get back to the character, despite some of the outrageous things she does?’ I’m protective with the writing because it’s so good, and some of it is just pure entertainment and some of it I have to also just root it to her and keep it within the realm of something that is absolutely true to how she would behave. You can tell that Taylor writes with such freedom with Beth, he doesn’t hold back, and so I’ve learned over the years of playing her now that where she really exists is in that place of just pushing it and seeing her in those moments.

Do I stay in character [between takes]? No, that would kill me, so I tend to leave her at the end of the day in my costume and I go home. She does definitely penetrate my psyche and I think about it a lot. It’s a challenging character and I care tremendously about hitting all those notes and making it as real and doing the best job I can. But I try not take her home. I don’t think my husband would like that.

Bentley: One of the hardest things about playing this character is it’s against the grain on for Wes to do that, the certain things he does. But I really have to set myself aside more than ever to make room for Jamie and his choices and strange decisions. I mean, Jamie always thinks he’s got the smartest move. He also has a real strong sense of right and wrong, but it’s within himself. It’s not really the world’s right and wrong, and right and wrong changes depending on what he needs to happen in that moment. So that shifting moral compass is really tricky to to find, but it’s really interesting too. It’s what fascinates me about him because that is what is so complicated about him. What is really right and wrong to him?

How do fans approach you to talk about your character? What is the scene or moment people bring up the most?

Bentley: Yes, absolutely, especially where we shoot in Montana, they’ve all gotten to feel comfortable with us and they know us pretty well. Sometimes I’m shopping in town and people feel free to yell at me across the store that they hate me, but they have a smile on their face. [Laughs] It’s all good fun, or they have suggestions for what Jamie should do, or they have therapy things they would help Jamie with. It’s amazing. It’s also fun because they’ve got a lot of passion. They’re really invested in the characters and the outcome, so it’s a great experience.

Hauser: One of the moments the fans love the most is the scene with Beth and I sitting on the porch when she gives me a ring — when I say it’s like a lug nut. I think they’re actually making a ring like that from some famous jewelry company and they’re going to sell it.

Reilly: There’s a scene that people really responded to me back in Season 2, when Beth is attacked in the office. I think that was a turning point for people falling in love with the character. She’s not just a hot mess bitch, she was actually someone who could really fight and defend. There was an honor in that —They could kill her, they could rape her, but she was never going to let them take her power. And it was shocking and empowering to a lot of women. That and the scene in the boutique where she trashes the store. They love whenever Beth is destroying something. People love it. It’s kind of illuminating to the American psyche.

These interviews have been edited and condensed.

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