One of the reasons Rip Wheeler is a fan favorite on Yellowstone is because of his independent attitude, and as it turns out, this is something actor Cole Hauser has in common with his character.
Born on a ranch north of Santa Barbara, Hauser grew up with an appreciation for wide-open spaces where the only neighbors he had were the surrounding livestock and trees. When he was just four, he and his mother moved to an even bigger ranch in Oregon, where the little cowboy patrolled his lands with a BB gun in his hands. Eventually, when the acting bug bit the future Yellowstone star in high school, Cole Hauser and his mom made their way to California. At the time, she revealed that he was actually a descendant of the Warner family – as in the Warner Bros.
But Hauser’s mother didn’t want to hand the aspiring actor his intended career on a platter. For a while, Wheeler had to fend for himself, finding auditions and enduring five-hour bus rides on his own until his mom revealed another huge secret. His father was Wings Hauser, an actor who commonly appeared as a guest star on popular series. Unfortunately, the 12-year-old quickly found out that his father was still battling a drug and alcohol addiction. So, he decided to hunker down in an old PT boat docked in nearby Marina del Rey.
“That was an awesome time,” the now-47-year-old told BND of his days living on the boat, “because it meant freedom.”
Cole Hauser Talks Literally Getting Back in the Saddle on ‘Yellowstone’
How Cole Hauser managed to pull himself up by his bootstraps and make a life for himself at such a young age just speaks to how well he relates to his character on Yellowstone. Like Rip Wheeler, Hauser didn’t see failure as an option, and he did whatever it took to get where he needed to be. That kind of confidence is likely what caught director Taylor Sheridan’s eye. Underneath Hauser’s tough exterior was a heart of gold and the will of a bull. That, in a nutshell, was Rip Wheeler.
This became even more apparent when Cole Hauser had to complete an intense cowboy boot camp prior to filming for Yellowstone. Before Hauser became Rip Wheeler, he starred in a film called The Last Champion. It was there that he broke his back, setting him back with riding. However, when he knew he would be starring in Yellowstone, Cole Hauser knew he just had to get back in the saddle.
And as it turned out, riding even helped him recover from the past injury.
“It was like the old saying, ‘F— it, you just gotta get back on the horse and do it,” he shared. “My back was so bad I couldn’t move around very well, and so I lost strength in my stomach. What riding ended up doing is strengthening my back and my core.”