Portrayed by Cole Hauser, Yellowstone ranch foreman Rip Wheeler is John Dutton’s right-hand man and enforcer. He’s also become a fan-favorite character over the years, much to the surprise of the actor who brings him to life on screen. But he wasn’t supposed to be so lovable. Speaking to Town & Country, the 47-year-old said series creator, Taylor Sheridan initially wanted Rip to be seen as volatile.
Interestingly, Cole Hauser’s performance in Yellowstone has received a very warm reception. When asked whether he found the response surprising, the actor laughs, saying yes. “I think it surprised Taylor too,” he told the publication. “It’s definitely not something that we ever discussed. It was quite the opposite.” He also explained how the original plan was to have viewers think Rip was crazy by having him kill or burn people.
“For whatever reason, it’s kind of worked the opposite,” Cole Hauser added about his Yellowstone character. It’s especially surprising since viewers have seen Rip kill by strangulation, instigate vicious fights, and use a rattlesnake as a weapon. While the character may have the highest body count due to his aggressive nature, Rip Wheeler remains one of the most popular characters in the series.
In the story, Rip Wheeler worked on the Dutton ranch for years and is fiercely loyal to John. He was taken in by the family as a young runaway after killing his father, who murdered his mother and brother. Rip has also been in a relationship with Beth Dutton since they were teenagers, and the pair are finally married at the end of the fourth season.
But that doesn’t mean that Rip Wheeler will approach life differently in the latest installment of the popular series. He also doesn’t consider himself a member of Montana’s first family. “Taylor didn’t write it that way, which I love. I actually like the fact that it’s business as usual,” Cole Hauser said about Yellowstone’s fifth season.
He added that being a Dutton never even crosses Rip’s mind. Instead, it’s more of the loyalty, the honor that he has for John, and the friendship that he has with Kayce. While there are still a lot of stories to cover in the new season, when asked if there be a sixth season six, Cole Hauser made sure he answered the questions about Yellowstone’s fate carefully. “I don’t know about the end,” he said.
Cole Hauser added that Yellowstone is doing well right now and no one should be thinking or talking about the end. “We should be talking about season five,” he told the publication. Created by Taylor Sheridan and John Linson, the series premiered in 2018 on the Paramount Network. The story revolves around the Dutton family, owners of the largest ranch in Montana knowns as “The Yellowstone.”
Each episode explores family drama at the ranch and conflicts with the bordering Broken Rock Indian Reservation, national park, and developers. Along with Cole Hauser, the fifth season of Yellowstone sees Kevin Costner, Wes Bentley, Kelly Reilly, Luke Grimes, and Gil Birmingham reprise their roles from previous seasons.