Cole Hauser discusses Rip Wheeler and the pop culture phemoneon that is ‘Yellowstone’

IMDb / Paramount

Yellowstone fans can all agree that one of John Dutton’s ranch hands are absolute scene stealers, one of which is everyone’s favorite cowboy Rip Wheeler. Cole Hauser brings the handsome and gritty character to life, and we’re all a little bit (see also: totally) in love with him.

The influence and power of Yellowstone can be seen almost anywhere, and Rip is a character that fans flock to. He’s John’s right-hand man, chauffeur to the train station, Beth Dutton’s love interest, and an absolute powerhouse. There’s something about him that appeals to every viewer, and we have Hauser to thank for that.

In an interview with Cigar and Spirits, Hauser shared more about Rip’s backstory and how some of its inspiration comes from his personal story and its ups and downs. 

“His backstory has been one that’s been worked on between Taylor and I. Taylor’s imagination and some of my past with my own family and my own father. Taylor has become a really good friend, and he knows a lot about my family and what I’ve gone through. He hasn’t used all of it, but he has used some of it to trigger certain things in me as an actor and also in Rip. Taylor’s done a wonderful job of exploring who Rip is, what gets him going, the blackness in his heart, the red that’s still there. It’s been fun to be able to play those different colors throughout the years.”8

Hauser didn’t get specific about everything they use in the series, but honing in on his past and certain relationships have been critical to the success of Wheeler’s character, and boy, is he successful. Rip stands out above the other talented actors and multifaceted characters, and he does so with grace, confidence, and poise. 

The interviewer notes that Rip is so interesting because of the way he exudes such strong yet vastly different emotions all at once. Hauser adds another important character trait: “He has a big, big heart.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean you’d want to be the one who has to take him on if you were to wrong the Duttons; Rip can be terrifying. It’s part of his job; he’s the bulk of the ranch, and he has to stand tall so that the Dutton family enemies know they’re nothing to mess with.

If you’re a longtime fan of the series, you know that Rip is also the guy who often takes passengers to the Dutton Train Station, which specializes in one-way rides that you’ll never come back from. There are t-shirts, car magnets, and mugs with the train station on them; that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Yellowstone is everywhere; it’s taken its throne in the pop culture realm and solidified a place in entertainment, and a big one at that. Hauser spoke about the intensity with which the series has grown in viewers’ hearts. 

When asked about being awed by it, he said it’s not so much a surprise as it is something they’ve worked hard to accomplish. They’re dedicated to the storyline, characters, and vision Taylor Sheridan brings to life.

“I’ve had that question asked a lot recently, and I’m not so much awed by it. I think when you have a grassroots show like this, that started very small and is built from the interior of the country out, and now it’s finally seemingly hit California and New York, which took many years, then you’ve done it the right way. You’ve taken the stairs versus the elevator. Each year, we’ve taken those steps to really solidify not only our audience, but the love for the show.”

Their “taking the stairs” approach to the series has certainly garnered quite a fan base. Yellowstone isn’t just Paramount’s number one series; it’s the number one non-football show on television as a whole. They took the right approach in solidifying a lasting television experience and fan base. Just look around when you walk into a department store, scroll through social media, or talk to pop culture-loving friends; Yellowstone is the topic of many conversations — and rightfully so. 

You can rewatch the best and most heartwrenching of Yellowstone so far on Peacock now, and don’t forget; a two-hour television event kicks off season 5 on November 13.