‘Yellowstone’ TV: Cole Hauser Was Almost Cast in a Different Role Than Rip Wheeler

by Thad Mitchell

Veteran actor Cole Hauser is the breakaway star as Rip Wheeler in the hit Paramount Network series Yellowstone.

As the enforcer for the powerful Dutton family, Rip has become one of Yellowstone’s most beloved characters. Hauser plays the rough and tough cowboy to perfection and gives the character plenty of layers. Rip is shaping up to be one of Hauser’s signature roles through the show’s first three seasons.

It would be hard for Yellowstone fans to imagine anyone else besides Hauser playing Rip Wheeler. It would be equally tough to see Hauser playing another Yellowstone character other than Rip — but it almost happened.

In a recent interview, Hauser admits he initially eyed a different role once receiving the pilot episode script. He says people around him wanted to see him play one of John Dutton’s three sons. As John Dutton, Kevin Costner is terrific, playing the character as a grizzled cowboy who looks out for his family and his ranch. John Dutton has three sons on the show: Jamie Dutton, played by Wes Bentley, Kayce Dutton, played by Luke Grimes and Lee Dutton, played by David Annable. Lee dies early in the series after being shot in a raid to reclaim cattle belonging to Yellowstone Ranch.

‘Yellowstone’ Co-Creator Envisions Hauser as Dutton Son

While he doesn’t say which Dutton boy he had his eye on, Hauser says it was a possibility he would take one of the roles. He was approached by Yellowstone co-creator John Linson about taking a part in the show.

“He came to me and said ‘there’s this show, we’ve just got Kevin Costner, take a look at it and see what you think,'” Hauser recalls. “I think you’d be great in this.”

Hauser says his team wanted him to angle into one of the Dutton boy roles. It was the role of Rip Wheeler, however, that won him over.

“I didn’t think that there was a role that was right for me when it came to Jamie, or Lee, or Kayce,” he says. The one that jumped off the page was Rip, and they were like ‘what are you doing? It’s two scenes in the pilot.’ I said, ‘no this character’s gonna have something really good, I can just feel it.'”

His feeling was right as he would go on to accept the part of Rip. He would turn the character into one of the best currently on television.

Currently on hiatus, Yellowstone expects a summer return, likely in the month of June.