‘Yellowstone’ TV: Here’s What ‘Rip Wheeler’ Actor Cole Hauser Believes the Dutton Ranch Brand Symbolizes

by Thad Mitchell

As the rough and tough cowboy Rip Wheeler, Cole Hauser is a breakout star in the hit Paramount Network series Yellowstone.

Hauser gives Rip plenty of layers and he plays the character to near perfection. Rip is the foreman of Yellowstone Ranch and a steadying influence on a young bunkhouse squad. He is also the muscle behind the powerful Montana ranching family, the Duttons.

Rip is fiercely loyal to the Duttons and especially family patriarch John Dutton. The big and burly cowboy is more than willing to get his hands dirty when called upon. Through three seasons of Yellowstone, he has proven he will go to great lengths to protect his adopted family and his ranch.

Rip’s loyalty and importance to the Dutton clan and Yellowstone Ranch are symbolized by the brand on his chest. Several of the Yellowstone ranch hands bear the Yellowstone brand. The brands are put on their chests the same way they are put on the cattle. It is a very painful experience, to say the least, but the ranchers wear it with pride. Along with Rip, several other ranch hands have the brand including Lloyd, Jimmy and Walker. John’s son, Kayce Dutton, also has the brand on his chest. Last season saw Colby and Teeter earn their brands after participating in the murder of a Dutton family adversary.

‘Yellowstone’s Cole Hauser Speaks Out on Brand Meaning

Earning the Yellowstone brand is something of a “right of passage” for ranch workers. In a 2020 interview with The Havok Journal, Hauser speaks out on what he believes the brand means. The veteran actor says the brand represents the two-way street of loyalty.

“That’s (Yellowstone Executives) John Linson and Taylor Sheridan,” Hauser says. “They created that and, obviously it goes way back in the history of the Dutton Ranch. You know that John Dutton is father. Taking guys who are essentially criminals, and giving them an opportunity to work a ranch. The loyalty of the Dutton ranch means everything.”

Hauser says Rip has also been shown great loyalty by John Dutton, who treats him like a son.

“John Dutton gave my character Rip a chance, and what comes with that is a forever loyalty,” he says. “That loyalty will never be taken away. If there was a message in this show it would be: loyalty, old school core values, family unity, and even friends being a part of that family unit.”

With Yellowstone’s return now just months away, fans hope to see even more of Rip Wheeler in the new season.