Yellowstone: Cole Hauser stars as ranch hand Rip Wheeler
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Rip Wheeler (played by Cole Hauser) quickly became one of the most popular characters in Taylor Sheridan’s hit Western series, Yellowstone. Before the series enters its fourth season on Paramount this summer, Hauser has recalled the surprising backstory that led to him securing his most iconic role.
One of Yellowstone’s main cast members, Cole Hauser, has admitted he could have played a very different role in Paramount’s popular cable series.
After a relatively brief appearance in the show’s feature length pilot, Rip fast became one of Yellowstone’s most prominent characters.
As the Dutton ranch’s ruthlessly efficient manager and leader of the bunkhouse crew, Rip is the trusted right hand man of the powerful John Dutton (Kevin Costner).
Throughout the series, the ranch manager has helped keep peace on the ranch, and occasionally goes to extreme lengths to keep trespassers off the Duttons’ land.
His tentative relationship with John’s fiercely independent daughter, Beth (Kelly Reilly), has also grown into one of the most endearing portions of the series over the course of three seasons.
However, when Cole Hauser recalled his experiences on The Ryen Russillo podcast, he admitted his part in the series could have looked a lot different.
The Yellowstone star detailed his first meeting with his friend John Linson, who co-created the series and offered Hauser a script for the series’ pilot episode.
Hauser explained: “He came to me and said ‘there’s this show, we’ve just got Kevin Costner, take a look at it and see what you think. I think you’d be great in this.’”
Although the actor would eventually be cast as Rip, Hauser explained that he could have angled to play one of John Dutton’s three sons.
He continued: “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.”
While the eldest son, Lee (Dave Annable), has only made sporadic appearances in the series, Kayce (Luke Grimes) and Jamie (Wes Bentley) had much bigger roles from the pilot onwards.
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Even so, Hauser revealed he immediately felt an attachment to John Dutton’s trusted ranch hand, despite Rip’s limited screen time in the initial script for Yellowstone’s pilot.
He went on: “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.’”
Best known for writing and directing neo-Westerns such as Hell or High Water, showrunner Taylor Sheridan has already demonstrated an affinity with characters like Rip.
Despite seeming a man of few words in Yellowstone’s first episode, Rip has fully embodied the ranch lifestyle and grown into one of the show’s most layered characters.
Hauser explained: “I know that Taylor loves the real cowboy way, he believes those kinds of guys should be talked about.”
Thankfully, Cole Hauser and his co-star Kelly Reilly’s chemistry was also immediately apparent, and one of TV’s most popular pairings in recent years was born.
Yellowstone season 4 will premiere in June 2021 on Paramount.
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