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Kelly Reilly: Rise and Journey to Stardom

In the realm of Hollywood, few actors have managed to captivate audiences with their talent and versatility quite like Kelly Reilly. With her arresting on-screen presence and powerful performances, Reilly has steadily risen to fame and established herself as one of the industry’s most consistent and versatile talents. 

With her role in the the upcoming A Haunting in Venice — the third installment of the Kenneth Branagh/Detective Hercule Poirot series following 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express and 2022’s Death on the Nile — we wanted to take the chance to explore and celebrate Reilly’s interesting career trajectory! From her humble beginnings to her breakout roles, let’s explore Kelly Reilly’s remarkable journey to stardom.

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Early Life and Career Start

Kelly Reilly was born on July 18, 1977, in Chessington, Surrey, England. Raised in a working-class family, Reilly discovered her passion for acting at a young age and a career in the performing arts, studying drama at Tolworth Girl’s School. Her journey began in local theater productions on the English stage, including Terry Johnson’s Elton John’s Glasses, The London Cuckolds, The Graduate, and Piano/Forte. Reilly became a star of the London stage with her performance in After Miss Julie at the Donmar Warehouse. She was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Actress in 2003 at age 26, the youngest person ever nominated for that award.

Breakthrough Role: Mrs. Henderson Presents

While she was cast in several film productions in the early 2000s, Reilly’s breakthrough came in 2005 when she was cast as the lead in the British independent film Mrs. Henderson Presents. Starring alongside acting legends Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins, Reilly portrayed the role of Maureen, a young performer in a risqué theater revue during World War II. The film was a critical and commercial success, catapulting Reilly into the spotlight and earning her widespread acclaim for her performance. Including winning the Empire Award for Best Newcomer. 

Kelly Reilly: Establishing a Presence

Kelly Reilly and Jude Law in Sherlock Holmes.
Kelly Reilly and Jude Law in “Sherlock Holmes” | TM & © 2009 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.

Following her success in Mrs Henderson Presents, Kelly Reilly became a sought-after actress in both film and television. Her ability to bring depth and authenticity to her characters garnered her numerous roles across a range of genres.

In 2008, Reilly’s first lead role came in the psychological horror film Eden Lake, earning a British Independent Film Award Best Actress nomination and solidifying her reputation as a versatile performer. The film’s intense and harrowing storyline showcased Reilly’s ability to delve into complex and emotionally charged roles. She followed that up with other high-profile roles that year, including Guy Ritchie‘s Sherlock Holmes (and later its sequel), Triage, Me and Orson Welles, and the prime-time British television series, Above Suspicion. 

Continued Success and Acclaim

With her star on the rise, Kelly Reilly continued to shine in both film and television. In 2012, she appeared in A Single Shot with Sam Rockwell and had a starring role in Robert Zemeckis’ Flight, starring opposite Denzel Washington. Her performance as Nicole, a drug-addicted woman struggling with personal demons, earned her a Hollywood Film Festival Spotlight Award.

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While Reilly saw consistent success in film, prestige TV continued to bring new and interesting opportunities. She starred in the second season of HBO’s acclaimed mystery crime drama series True Detective in 2015 as Jordan Semyon, the wife of a wealthy businessman connected to the criminal underworld. The series also featured Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Taylor Kitsch, and Rachel McAdams

Yellowstone and Beyond

Kelly Reilly and Kevin Costner in Yellowstone.
Kelly Reilly and Kevin Costner in Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone” | ©2023 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Reilly’s foray into television also flourished as she took on the role of Beth Dutton alongside Kevin Costner in the hit modern Western series Yellowstone, set to premiere its final season later this year. Her portrayal of the strong-willed and complex character further solidified her standing as a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry.

Kelly Reilly’s rise to fame is a testament to her remarkable talent, unwavering determination, and commitment to her craft. From her early days in local theater to her commanding presence on the big and small screens, Reilly has proven herself as a versatile and skilled actress capable of taking on any challenge.

As she continues to grace the world of entertainment with her performances, audiences can rest assured that Kelly Reilly’s star will only continue to shine brighter. With each role, she reaffirms her position as an actress with a profound ability to connect with audiences and leave a lasting impression, making her a rising star worth keeping an eye on in the years to come.

See Kelly Reilly in A Haunting in Venice 


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On September 15, Reilly will once again grace the big screen with her presence in A Haunting in Venice! Based on the 1969 novel Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie, the film is set in post-World War II Venice as Detective Poirot tries to live in self-imposed exile and retirement. He reluctantly attends a séance at a decaying, haunted palazzo on All Hallows’ Eve.

Reilly’s character, Rowena Drake, attends the séance in hopes of contacting her late daughter. When a guest is murdered, Detective Poirot is thrust back into action and an eerie world of spirits and shadows!

The ensemble cast also includes Kyle Allen, Camille Cottin, Jamie Dornan, Tina Fey, Jude Hill, Ali Khan, Emma Laird, Riccardo Scamarcio, and Michelle Yeoh.

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