Yellowstone Star Kelly Reilly: ‘I’m Not An Exhibitionist’


You’re playing detective inspector Anna Travis again, in Above Suspicion: Deadly Intent, the third in Lynda La Plante’s ITV series. The action starts – in typically squalid style – with a murder in a drug dealer’s flat. What are the shoots like?

Labour-intensive – the whole thing took just six weeks, which gives you an energy and a buzz, for sure. Luckily, all the main actors have worked together for a while now and Gillies [MacKinnon] came to direct for a second time, so there is a shorthand we all have with one another and we get on. You’re dealing with all this dark matter and we shoot in the most grimy and depressing places, so you do need a bit of a laugh; we do find ourselves getting a bit silly sometimes.

What do you think of Anna Travis?

Well, she’s not a political character like Jane Tennison [the DCI played by Helen Mirren in La Plante’s Prime Suspect]; she’s not fighting her ground and it’s almost like she just doesn’t care. She has an insouciance… she wears those skirts and those heels, and while I don’t think she uses her femininity or anything like that, she just doesn’t hide it. There’s a dilemma for the audience, because normally your prejudices would invite you to dismiss a woman like her who seems a bit awkward and wears tight skirts. But she brings something fresh in among those hackneyed male detectives.

Your dad was a policeman, wasn’t he?

He was a police officer for 25 years, all over south London, Lambeth, Southwark, during the Brixton riots. You know, you hear that people hate the police, like during the recent student protests, and I think: “Well, they’re doing their job and they have kids who want to go to university too.” My dad is such a good man, hard-working. I’m all for a good protest though. I think it’s absolutely essential and a rite of passage… without the violence. Obviously, education is hugely important, along with healthcare. They’re the basics and you’re hurting your own country if you don’t pour money into them.

What does your dad make of Above Suspicion?

We don’t really talk about it – he’s a man of few words. I can imagine that it’s weird for him, but no weirder than when I play a prostitute or a Shakespearean tragic heroine.

When you played Desdemona, opposite Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Othello (at the Donmar in 2007), some of the reviews referred to the magnificence of your cleavage as much as the quality of your acting. Does that annoy you?

Yes. It’s really boring. I mean, I don’t think I’m someone who chases that sort of attention at all. I’m not a show-off, I’m not an exhibitionist. I’ve done nudity because it’s in the film or the play but I don’t search it out. Mostly, I just try not to pay that sort of press any attention.

There’s a lot of pressure on actresses to look young, though.

I’m getting into my mid-thirties and I’m starting to think about that. Suddenly, I find I’m a bit older and this is such a youthful profession. You know, if you put Above Suspicion on TV in America they would be horrified! We can definitely take more grit and grime in this country. If you look at those programmes like CSI, it’s ridiculous. Still, without wishing to sound like a complete fairy, I think a lot of the way we look comes from inside. If you worry and you’re angry it shows. I love actresses who embrace ageing, like Robin Wright Penn; she hasn’t had anything done. You can see the laughter lines and she is so beautiful and when I see her playing a character I believe in her, unlike an actress who can’t move her face.


Any parts you’d really like to play?

I’m a big Chekhov fan. I did Three Sisters years ago and I played Irina, the youngest daughter. I think I’m now the right age to play Masha – she’s the best part in it.

You might be romantically linked with Guy Ritchie again [as she was when filming Sherlock Holmes in 2008]!

All that was ridiculous nonsense. It was the first time anything like that had ever happened to me and I didn’t cope with it very well at all. I sued! And I won because it was completely made up. Suddenly, there were press at my mum and dad’s house; it just felt surreal, like it was happening to somebody else. I’d be less bothered if it happened now. I let it affect me because it was embarrassing. Not with regard to Guy – to be honest, I couldn’t care less what he thought, he’s used to it! But I had people ringing me up saying: “What’s this about you and…” It hurts people you love. I was in a relationship.

What do you do in your spare time?

Ride horses, cook for friends and go for long walks. I live between my house on the borders of Sussex and Surrey and New York, where my boyfriend lives. I’m not saying any more about him except that he’s not an actor, not in the business. I spend a lot of time across the pond. I spend a lot of my time on aeroplanes. I’m probably going to do the move soon. I’d like my life to be in one place.

Apparently you meditate…

Yes, I do sometimes. It’s really helpful to me. I’m not Buddhist or anything, it’s just about trying to quieten your brain. It’s very important to me to stay grounded. I think when you’re an actor and you’re drawing on your emotions all the time you need to be quite steady. You need to be able to separate yourself. I don’t want to be a neurotic or crazy. I have a nice, normal life and I couldn’t live in this world all the time. Sometimes, I think I could disappear quite easily but then again it’s my job and I love it.

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