The Dutton ranch has been home to some challenging individuals over the years, but Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser) certainly sits at the top as one of its most fierce attendees on the hit series, “Yellowstone.” The family ‘fixer,’ whose hands are as dirty as his past, has been one of the most unnerving characters in the show, and he’s willing to do anything for the family that took him in at a young age. Living up to the Yellowstone brand instead of earning it, Wheeler’s antics in the show up to this point have been intense, which begs the question of just how the man behind the Yellowstone muscle handles tackling the role in the first place.
It’s nothing new for stars to carry the weight of the world they’ve helped bring to life in front of the camera and the character they drop in the middle of it. Some take the method approach, while others are left a bit rattled over the stories they’ve helped tell. In the case of Hauser’s heavy-handed captain in cowboy boots, he accepts that he might take his alter-ego off the set when the cameras stop rolling, but he is under orders not to take him any further by a very important person.
Hauser can’t bring Wheeler home from Yellowstone
Speaking to Parade, Cole Hauser discussed just what proportion of his performance comes from himself compared to the pages scribbled down by the show’s creator, Taylor Sheridan. As difficult as it may be to think that someone like Wheeler actually exists, Hauser admitted some of him was in there amongst that brooding bruiser. When asked if he had any of that cold-cut intensity from Wheeler, Hauser said, “Yeah, I have some of it. I save a lot of it for the character. I try to, at least. My wife says, ‘You put that on screen, don’t do that here.'”
It’s good to have an on-and-off switch for a character, particularly one as fierce as Wheeler, but what came as a big shock to Hauser was how audiences reacted to him over the years. Like lethal TV legends such as Omar Little (Michael K. Williams) from “The Wire” or Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), there’s something about no-nonsense characters that linger in the grey area between good and evil that viewers are drawn toward. In the case of Rip Wheeler, though, even Hauser was baffled by the growing fandom for the character, who is a nasty piece of work.
Hauser doesn’t get why fans love Rip Wheeler so much
Speaking to Town & Country, Hauser explained that he and Sheridan were shocked over how much popularity there is for a man with the unnerving skill for taking people out and making them permanently disappear. “I think it surprised Taylor too. It’s definitely not something that was ever on the table, that we ever discussed. In fact, I think it was quite the opposite,” he recalled. It’s been a long and bloody road for Wheeler but one that Sheridan has seemingly been ecstatic to head down alongside Hauser.
In reflecting on the “Yellowstone” creator’s focus with Wheeler, the star recalled Sheridan’s excitement about the henchman’s effective methods when they were thought up. “Taylor was like, ‘Oh man, people are gonna think you’re f—–g nuts. I wrote this scene, the way you kill this guy or burn this guy,’ you know what I mean? And for whatever reason, it’s kind of worked the opposite.” Well, the age-old lesson of giving the people what they want can’t be ignored — and what they want is as much Rip Wheeler as possible. Who can blame them?
Hauser was close to being a Dutton boy before having a go as Wheeler
In an interview with Parade, Cole Hauser recalled just how it came to be that he wandered onto the Dutton ranch as a now-fan-favorite character in the show. Initially, the plan was for Hauser to take on one of the roles of a Dutton son, but it only took a few pages for Hauser to drastically change plans and take on a different role entirely after co-creator John Linson let him take a look. “Initially, they were interested in me as one of the sons, and then I saw Rip in the pilot. He didn’t have a bunch to do, but I just thought, ‘Wow, that’s the character that I’m interested in.'”
From there, it was a phone call with Taylor Sheridan directly regarding Rip that shifted what was originally planned. “He and I, we ended up talking for an hour or hour and a half about the growth and potential storyline for him,” he explained. “I just thought, ‘Wow, this is it,’ and I said, ‘This is who I want to play.’ He said, ‘Man, it’s yours.'” The rest, as they say, is Dutton family history, or not as the case may be. Thankfully with Hauser getting the greenlight, not only was a fan favorite cemented in the series, but it sparked a mutual respect and friendship between the actor and creator responsible for the legendary Rip Wheeler.