Yellowstone’s Cole Hauser Looked Completely Different Before Rip Wheeler Casting

“Yellowstone” has become a career-defining hit for most of its cast members. And few among the ensemble have seen their Hollywood stock rise quite as much as Cole Hauser. The actor had, of course, spent the better part of three decades stealing scenes as a supporting player before landing the role of Yellowstone Dutton Ranch foreman Rip Wheeler. But once “Yellowstone” was out, Rip’s stoic facade became one of the most instantly identifiable in the modern television landscape.

Still, it’s not far-fetched to think even Hauser’s longtime fans needed an episode or two to identify the actor in his “Yellowstone” role because Rip’s beefy, bearded look was so different from the low-key boyish features they’d come to know the actor for. According to Hasuer’s comments to AwardsDaily, the complete physical transformation was key in how he approached bringing Rip to life. “So I put on twenty pounds and most of it, I won’t lie, was weight,” Hauser said. As the star notes, the goal was to ensure Rip’s physique was both suitably intimidating and ranch-life accurate. “I wanted to be bigger than everybody,” he said, adding, “He’s just a big country, strong-looking guy.”

Hauser’s approach to playing Rip has clearly paid off big time. And in doing away with the pretty-boy swagger he fronted in films like “School Ties,” and “2 Fast 2 Furious,” he’s helped create one of the toughest characters in all of television.

Hauser wasn’t initially supposed to play Rip on Yellowstone

“Yellowstone” has become a career calling card for Cole Hauser. That will likely remain true no matter how things shake out for Rip Wheeler over the series’ final run of episodes. And with the end of “Yellowstone” very much in sight, one has to imagine a leading role or two may be in Hauser’s future — though it remains to be seen how fans will react when he eventually sheds his Rip look.


Whatever the case, Hauser’s breakout success as Rip is even sweeter, as it seems his managerial team initially had him targeting a much different role on the series. The actor admitted as much during a 2021 chat with Outsider, noting his team was pushing him to audition for one of Dutton’s siblings. “So I looked at the script and I think initially, my team wanted me to position myself to play one of the sons,” Hauser said. “And I just didn’t see it at all.” Hauser then claims Rip was the only character in the script who stood out for him despite having such limited screen time in the pilot.

With Rip becoming a legit fan-favorite character early in the series’ run, his screen time has only grown, with the character now serving as a central figure in all matters surrounding the Dutton family. As Hauser told MovieWeb in 2022, that fan-favorite status continues to surprise both him and Taylor Sheridan, as neither believed Rip would be particularly likable. But “Yellowstone” fandom has spoken. And if Sheridan is listening to the will of his fans, he’ll do all he can to ensure Rip’s rough and rowdy face is around in the “Yellowstone” sequel.

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