‘Yellowstone’ TV: Why Cole Hauser’s Rip Wheeler Is the Heart and Soul of the Show

by Jennifer Shea
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“Yellowstone” is an ensemble drama, but if there’s one character who best embodies the heart and grit of the show, it’s got to be Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser).

The heart of ‘Yellowstone’

Rip is John Dutton’s (Kevin Costner) fixer and enforcer. He’s also a sort of adopted son to Dutton, who leaves Rip his house in season 2.

Dutton also gives Rip his blessing to date his daughter Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly). Rip and Beth are both complex characters, and their romance has unfolded with plenty of twists and turns throughout the seasons. But the show’s creators have dangled the prospect of a happy ending for the battered pair as time wore on.

Hauser told Decider this August that Beth and Rip’s relationship goes to the core of who his character is. He said season 3 provided “the opportunity to really show range with the character and not be a one trick pony.” 

“That’s what I wanted, especially with Beth,” he added. “There are some really beautiful moments between her and me. Kelly Reilly and I worked really hard on them as actors and they came out —from what I’ve seen — exactly as we wanted.”

With Beth’s fate hanging by a thread at the end of last season, Rip is on course to settle some debts next season. But it remains to be seen if John Dutton will keep him from seeking vengeance.

Role models

Rip looks up to Dutton as a sort of father figure on “Yellowstone.” But, in his own way, Hauser said he also looks up to Costner as an actor.

“There’s definitely stuff that I’ve watched him do and thought, ‘Oh, that’s a nice way of approaching it,’” Hauser said. “I’ve been doing this for a very long time but I try not to be stuck in my ways. I study and I work. I want to come to the set with ideas of my own. Kevin, though, is someone I definitely look up to. I’ve been watching him from afar since I was probably five years old. He’s one of those great actors that has done so much, especially in this genre. He’s really laid down some of the best work in Westerns in the last 50 years.”

Outsider.com