'Yellowstone': Cole Hauser Brings Tough-as-Nails Ranch Hand Rip Wheeler to Life

The Paramount Network's hit American show Yellowstone is full of complicated characters. Kevin Costner's John Dutton and the rest of the Dutton family definitely have a lot to deal with while maintaining their family ranch. But the family is held together with the help of longtime friend and foreman Rip Wheeler, played by Cole Hauser.

Raised in Santa Barbara, California, Cole Kenneth Hauser was no stranger to Hollywood. His mother, Cass Warner, founded her own production company and his father, Wings Hauser, was also an actor. And yes, that would be Warner of the Warner Bros. His great-grandfather Harry Warner was a founding partner of the massive production company. So when Hauser dropped out of high school to pursue an acting career, he must've been proud to enter the family business.

His film debut was in School Ties, alongside future stars Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Chris O'Donnell, and Ben Affleck. Soon after, he appeared in Richard Linklater's Dazed and ConfusedHigher LearningTears of the Sunand Good Will Hunting with his old friends Matt and Ben. Hauser went on to make his rounds in action films including Pitch Black, the Bruce Willis war film Hart's War, 2 Fast 2 Furious, A Good Day to Die Hard, Olympus Has Fallen, The Cave, Paparazzi, Panama, Tigerland, Transcendence, A Matter of Justice, and Acts of Violence. He also found himself in a romcom with The Break-Up.

Before Yellowstone, Hauser also made his rounds on TV. In the '90s, he was a lead on the Steven Speilberg ABC TV series High Incident and later appeared on Rogue, Chase, K-Ville, and the Lifetime limited series The Lizzie Borden Chronicles.


Fans are currently loving Hauser in the role of Rip Wheeler, foreman of the Dutton Ranch, and John Dutton's right hand man. His co-stars include the other Dutton men, played by Luke Grimes and Wes Bentley, and John's daughter Beth Dutton played by Kelly Reilly. Beth and Rip have an on again off again relationship, which is fascinating to watch. The two actors have incredible chemistry and have become the love story Yellowstone fans are constantly rooting for.

Read More: Cole Hauser + Cynthia Daniel: Inside the 'Yellowstone' Star's Real Life Love Story

What's interesting is Hauser almost didn't even play Rip Wheeler on the popular show. The actor explained to Express that when the show's co-creator John Linson first met with him, he gave him the script and told him he thought he would be a great fit. Apparently, he could have requested to play one of John Dutton's sons if he had wanted to.

"He didn't say any role or anything. I looked at the script, and initially my team wanted me to position myself to play one of his sons. And I just didn't see it. I didn't think that there was a role that was right for me when it came to Jamie, or Lee, or Kayce."

His agents were shocked that he felt an immediate connection to the ranch hand Rip, who was barely in the pilot episode of the show.

"The one that jumped off the page was Rip, and they were like 'what are you doing? It's two scenes in a pilot.' I said, 'no this character's gonna have something really good, I can just feel it.'"

As we know, Rip went on to become a major character and now, we couldn't imagine anyone else in the role. In an interview with ScreenRant, Hauser explains the tension that develops on the show between his character and Kayce Dutton after Kayce returns to the family ranch.

"I think what's interesting about our relationship is it is a big brother-little brother relationship, and there is some obvious residue from him leaving the ranch and kind of not helping his father when I think he should have. But in the end, I think Rip loves each and every one of his sons like he does John, and obviously he has a tremendous amount of love for Beth. So I don't think he's the kind of person that goes, 'I'm gonna put myself in the middle of this and stand on my own two feet.' It's been happening for thirty years."

Houser told CinemaBlend that there are a few difficulties that come with filming a show that is mostly outdoors. His least favorite part of filming is definitely the weather.

"When it gets like early December and it's freezing, and you're sitting on a horse, freezing to death with the horse. The horse is shaking, and you're shaking with it. Waiting for them to say 'action.'"

Yellowstone season 4 is airing soon and we can't wait to see what's in store for Rip and Beth's future!

Yellowstone Dutton Ranch Unisex Adjustable Hat Travel

This article was originally published in July, 2020. 

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'Yellowstone': Cole Hauser Brings Tough-as-Nails Ranch Hand Rip Wheeler to Life