Ranch life

“It will be an emotional ride” – HERO Summer Zine cover star Kelsey Asbille teases the final season of Yellowstone
By Ella Joyce | Film+TV | 12 July 2023
Photographer Mark Seliger

We’ve all been obsessed with Taylor Sheridan’s neo-Western drama series Yellowstone. Now in its fifth and final season charting the trials and tribulations of the Dutton family, owners of the largest ranch in Montana, the show has lassoed us in and now we all want to move to the Big Sky Country and raise cattle. At the centre of the story is US actor Kelsey Asbille, having portrayed Monica Dutton since the series premiere, it’s been a fulfilling six-year journey that’s seen Asbille become closer to her character than ever before; growing with Monica and learning from her journey. Fronting the cover of the new HERO Summer Zine 7 – photographed by Mark Seliger and styled by Paul Sinclaire – we caught up with Asbille, poised for Yellowstone‘s eagerly-anticipated finale. [Warning: spoiler alert]

Ella Joyce: Season 5 Part 2 of Yellowstone is set to air later this year, are you excited to have it out in the world?
Kelsey Asbille: It will be an emotional ride as it’s our last season. I’ve worked with this cast and crew for six years now, some of them even longer. These people mean so much to me. I’m ready to get the gang back together one last time and give ‘em a show.

EJ: Can you give us an insight into what viewers can expect to see?
KA: I’ve spoken to Taylor [Sheridan, writer] about the ending, but I don’t know how we get there. I can’t wait, his scripts are some of the best pieces of writing I’ll ever work with.

“I’m ready to get the gang back together one last time and give ‘em a show.”

EJ: As someone who’s been part of the show from the beginning, you’ve really been able to get under the skin of your character, what have you learned from Monica over the years?
KA: Monica is no stranger to grief and tragedy. The challenge is in how you face it, how you work it out. Especially this past season, with the loss of her child – how do you move beyond that loss? Do you succumb to it? Ultimately her story is one of resistance. Her strength has always been her softness, she does have instincts, she is emotional, and she does care. She’s finding her way through it, with compassion and humility. That’s the great thing about acting – you lead many lives. My time with her and this show has changed my life, becoming aware of what makes me work, makes me think. We’ve grown together.


EJ: Western dramas have such a history in US culture, how does it feel to touch on that from a modern day perspective?
KA: By placing it in today’s world, it’s a look at the American frontier and how much it has changed, or not. It’s also an opportunity to subvert the traditional Western narrative, one that locates Native people in the past and ignores contemporary struggles. There’s much more complexity to the “good guy vs bad guy” – rather, it puts these two groups of people
in conversation with one another. Taylor knows exactly the story he wants to tell, and how he wants to tell it. You feel so immersed in the experience and the complete environment he has created.


“It makes you stop and smile at the magic of making movies.”

EJ: Have you got a standout moment from filming this series?
KA: The Western being such a big part of film history, those are always the standout moments for me, the quiet ones surrounded by this beautiful landscape. Whether it’s sitting by a fire under the stars in those summer camp episodes, or watching the Cowboys and Kelly Reilly ride off into the sunset. It makes you stop and smile at the magic of making movies.

EJ: What’s coming up next for you?
KA: I am in Bulgaria now shooting a movie. Sam Raimi is here producing, so I’m trying to play it cool, but it’s not working [laughs]. I am such a big fan. He made a movie with Kevin Costner, For Love of the Game, which is a baseball film in the 90s that will make you weep. Then I’ll head back to Montana for Yellowstone.

EJ: And lastly, have you seen any films lately that have wowed you?
KA: Other than my unwavering loyalty to Fast & Furious, I’ve been watching a lot of great movies to prepare for this shoot. It’s my favourite kind of homework. One that has really stayed with me is The Vanishing [1988] directed by George Sluizer. A classic thriller. Oof, it’s chilling. I won’t say more!


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