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'Yellowstone' Star Cole Hauser's Childhood May Have Prepared Him To Play Rip Wheeler


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As Yellowstone has gained more popularity season after season, its brooding cowboy Rip Wheeler has become a cultural phenomenon. He's the bad boy women love to watch and the cool guy's guy men want to be. He's even got his own trend on TikTok. Rip is one of the most popular characters on television, period, thanks to the actor who plays him, Cole Hauser. Hauser has been around Hollywood for decades, even coming from one of the most well-known families in Hollywood. But similar to Rip, it wasn't an easy road to finding his purpose in life. It took a lot of guts, determination, and hard work to get to where he is today.

In an interview with Men's Journal, Hauser opened up about his childhood, career and current role on Yellowstone. He had some really interesting things to share. The actor was born on a ranch outside of Santa Barbara, Calif. where he lived with his mother but they moved to a different ranch in Eugene, Ore. when he was just four years old. His early memories are full of riding horses, spending time outside, and being around animals. After spending additional time in Florida, Hauser and his mother found themselves back in California and he decided to try acting. That was when he found out that his mother's maiden name was Warner...you know, as in, Warner Bros.

The Early Years

Cole Hauser arrives at the 16th Annual IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California, Saturday, March 24, 2001

Photo by Evan Agostini/ImageDirect

Hauser's mother didn't make his acting ambitions easy, which, honestly probably helped instill a strong work ethic despite his young age. Though just 12 years old, she made him ride the bus out to Los Angeles to make his auditions, which took a whopping five hours. That's a 10-hour round trip, which is pretty rigorous for anyone let alone a tween. But he kept going until eventually, his mother laid another bombshell on him. His father, Wings Hauser, was an actor who actually lived in Los Angeles. Despite having had no contact with his dad for years, he moved in with him to be closer to the Hollywood action.

If you thought things would get easier for Hauser at this point, guess again. His father was dealing with addiction problems so the teenage actor moved into a houseboat by himself while trying to pursue his career. Eventually, he landed a small role in the high school drama School Ties. He received some valuable guidance and on-the-job training from the film's cinematographer Freddie Francis, but it's also where he met future stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. The three actors began a long friendship and after moving out to Hollywood from Boston, Damon and Affleck actually lived with Hauser (in an actual house at this point) until they had sold their script for Good Will Hunting. Their careers were forever changed but so was Hauser's. Seeing his friends succeed like that inspired him and gave him guidance on what he wanted out of his career.

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"Seeing good friends blasting onto the scene like they were helped me understand what my path should be," Hauser told Men's Journal. "I didn't want to be pushed into projects I didn't want to do, and I wanted to take risks like they did. It made me think about how I wanted to be perceived, and what people I wanted to surround myself with."

Hollywood + Yellowstone

Cole Hauser as Rip Wheeler on 'Yellowstone'

Photo via Paramount Network

Throughout his career, Hauser has made some interesting career moves. He's appeared in a wide array of films ranging from horror to thriller and even romantic comedy. He really did surround himself with specific friends in the industry, one of them being producer John Linson and eventually, actor turned writer/director, Taylor Sheridan. The two Yellowstone creators.

If you've seen Yellowstone, you're familiar with Rip Wheeler's backstory. After his family died, he had nothing and no one but made a future for himself on the Dutton's ranch after John Dutton took him in. You could kind of say the same for Hauser. Despite coming from actual Hollywood royalty, he got to where he is today on his own. He put in the years of hard work until someone finally took a chance on him and steadily transitioned from a supporting role in teen dramas to a leading man.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Cole Hauser Movies for 'Yellowstone' Fans Who Love Rip Wheeler

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