Cole Hauser Was Almost Cast as a Different Character Instead of Rip Wheeler in ‘Yellowstone’

Since joining “Yellowstone,” many actors have risen to prominence, becoming well-recognized names. Among these, Cole Hauser’s portrayal of Rip Wheeler, the son-in-law and enforcer to Kevin Costner’s character, John Dutton, stands out as a significant breakout role. However, Hauser himself has shared insights revealing he nearly played a different character in this acclaimed neo-western by Taylor Sheridan.

During an appearance on “The Ryen Rusillo Podcast,” Hauser opened up about his initial connection to the series, suggesting he was close to becoming a direct Dutton family member rather than the honorary position he holds through Rip. He expressed a lack of vision for himself in any of the Dutton sons’ roles, feeling an immediate connection to Rip instead, despite initial reservations from his management about the character’s limited presence in the pilot.

Echoing this sentiment in an interview with Express, Hauser recounted how “Yellowstone” co-creator John Linson introduced him to the project, emphasizing Kevin Costner’s involvement and suggesting Hauser would be a great fit for the show. This conversation steered him towards the character of Rip Wheeler, despite potential opportunities to portray one of the Dutton sons—Kayce, Lee, or the more polished Jamie.

Considering the character of Lee Dutton meets an early demise and only appears in subsequent flashbacks, Hauser’s decision to pursue Rip, who has grown significantly in popularity and complexity over the series’ run, seems fortuitous. The actor’s intuition about Rip’s potential has undoubtedly paid off, making it hard for fans and even Hauser himself to imagine him in any role other than the rugged and loyal enforcer.

Hauser’s journey with “Yellowstone” highlights not just the actor’s insight into his best fit within the series but also the intricate dynamics and character development that have made the show a cultural phenomenon. As Rip Wheeler, Hauser has captivated audiences, contributing to the rich tapestry of stories that define the Dutton family saga.