‘Yellowstone’ TV: How ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ Star Chris O’Donnell Described Once Working with Young Cole Hauser

by Jennifer Shea

“Yellowstone” star Cole Hauser was just another unknown actor when he appeared in “School Ties” with Chris O’Donnell. The natural redhead acted alongside a young Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and O’Donnell, among others.

And in a November 2020 interview with Entertainment Weekly, O’Donnell looked back on that movie, which he called an “incredible bonding experience.”

O’Donnell said none of the young men who appeared in the film knew each other at the time. But most of them have gone on to have successful careers in Hollywood.

‘School Ties’ Was About Anti-Semitism at Elite Prep Schools

Set in the 1950s, 1992’s “School Ties” follows David Greene (Fraser), a Jewish football star who gets recruited to play for and attend an elite New England prep school. He has to hide his Jewish identity from his classmates, who hold anti-Semitic views. O’Donnell played Greene’s roommate, Chris Reece. Hauser played Jack Connors – like Reece, part of a squad of popular jocks who rule the school.

Greene manages to hide his identity for awhile, but eventually the inevitable happens and he is outed to all his new friends, including the debutante he’d been courting. Many of them turn on him. Reece sticks by him, though, and in the end, the boy who outed him (Damon) has to leave the school.

Many critics panned the movie, calling it predictable and too reminiscent of other prep school stories. However, Time Out called it “well executed,” saying the movie “has its charms.” And Roger Ebert declared it “surprisingly effective.”

‘Yellowstone’ Star Cut His Teeth Alongside Fellow Stars of Today

While all of them were nobodies to the general public at the time, many of the protagonists in “School Ties” are now familiar faces to audiences. O’Donnell couldn’t help but marvel at how far they’ve come.

“I look back on it and think, Cole Hauser didn’t know Ben Affleck or Matt Damon at all,” O’Donnell told EW. “It was [an] incredible bonding experience. Look at movies like ‘Taps’ or ‘The Outsider.’ You think of guys who were young and working. They are all movie stars now.”

Focusing on male stars, O’Donnell added that he remembers what it was like way back when to be a young actor trying to get jobs. Those were lean years. But yet they were having the time of their lives.

“I mean, we are were all living in the Radison in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Miserable!” O’Donnell said. “We finally moved out and got these apartments across from the dump in Lowell. You’d have to close your windows because it smelled so bad. We were getting paid nothing and having a ball. How amazing to look back at how simple those times were. Now I’m living in Pacific Palisades and Ben and Matt both own houses within three miles of me.”

Meanwhile, Hauser has become a major star in his own right, acting in movies and appearing as fan favorite Rip Wheeler in “Yellowstone.”

Relive the “School Ties” trailer here: