If you’re a “Yellowstone” fan, there’s a good chance your favorite character might be Rip Wheeler, the tall, dark, and totally smoldering foreman at the Dutton ranch who is easily one of the dreamiest young men to grace the Paramount series. Turns out that, shocker, I’m not the only one who thinks this about Rip — and his real-life counterpart Cole Hauser was pretty surprised at the audience’s loyalty and love for the rancher.
In fact, the well-known actor doesn’t think the series’ showrunner, Taylor Sheridan, saw it coming either. Hauser told Town & Country in a recent interview:
“I think it surprised Taylor too. It’s definitely not something that was ever on the table, that we ever discussed. In fact, I think it was quite the opposite. [Taylor] was like, ‘Oh man, people are gonna think you’re f***ing nuts. I wrote this scene, the way you kill this guy or burn this guy,’ you know what I mean? And for whatever reason it’s kind of worked the opposite.”
Rip is a pretty level-headed guy, all things considered, and his violent side is usually brought out in an effort to defend Kelly Reilly’s Beth Dutton, the only Dutton daughter and his longtime on-and-off love. Their relationship spans back to their childhoods and, in season four, the pair finally married in a quite-literal “shotgun wedding.” No, not the kind you’re thinking, just that Beth held the pastor at gunpoint with a tiny pistol to perform the ceremony. No big deal.
Rip as a Dutton
Plus, now Rip’s running the show with Kevin Costner’s John Dutton taking the role of Montana governor and leaving Rip as ranch manager. That said, Rip isn’t one to let his guard down or rest on his laurels—and that includes warming up to his new place in Montana’s first family. According to Hauser, the character doesn’t, and probably won’t ever, actually see himself as one of the family, as a real Dutton. He told Town & Country:
“Taylor didn’t write it that way, which I love. I actually like the fact that it’s business as usual. No, I don’t think that ever crosses his mind being a Dutton. It’s more of the loyalty, the honor that he has for John, the friendship that he has with Kayce [John’s son]. But no, never a Dutton.”
Rip’s decision to separate himself from the Duttons and keep the family he knows so well at arm’s length is a smart decision, especially with how rough-and-tumble things get in Montana. Keeping himself as a somewhat independent party allows him to move with more stealth to protect himself and Beth. Plus, it’s not the worst idea to leave some of the Dutton-style butt-kicking to her; She’s good at it. But either way, Rip is too brooding not to love—so if he’s not your favorite “Yellowstone” character yet, get on it.