'Yellowstone': Cole Hauser Nearly Played Another Major Role

Season 4 of Yellowstone is approaching, and viewers are ready to see Rip Wheeler back in action. The ranch hand portrayed by Cole Hauser has become a fan-favorite character, but the actor wasn't originally set to star as Rip. Instead, he nearly played one of John Dutton's sons.

Hauser made an appearance on The Ringer's Ryen Russilo Podcast to discuss several topics. He promoted his wrestling film, The Last Champion, but also provided some history about landing the role of Rip. Dutton (Kevin Costner) has three sons at the start of Yellowstone — Kayce (Luke Grimes), Jamie (Wes Bentley), and Lee Dutton (Dave Annable). However, Lee dies during the very first episode after a battle over cattle erupts.

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"He [co-creator John Linson] came to me and said, 'there's this show, we've just got Kevin Costner, take a look at it and see what you think. I think you'd be great in this," Hauser explained during the podcast. "He didn't say any role or anything. I looked at the script, and initially, my team wanted me to position myself to play one of his sons. And I just didn't see it."

Hauser did not reveal which son was the favorite of his team, but he explained that none of them quite felt right. Instead, it was a different character that drew his attention. He noticed Rip, who originally had a few minor scenes during the pilot episode.

"I didn't think that there was a role that was right for me when it came to Jamie, or Lee, or Kayce," Hauser said. "The one that jumped off the page was Rip, and they were like, 'what are you doing? It's two scenes in a pilot.' I said, 'no this character's gonna have something really good, I can just feel it.'"

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Ultimately, Hauser was correct in his assessment. Kayce and Jamie are both major characters, but Rip has become the star of the show for many viewers. The fans constantly rave about him taking people to the "bus station." They also express appreciation for the budding romance between Rip and Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly). Would this character be as prominent if Hauser wasn't the actor portraying him?

Season 4 will head to the Paramount Network sometime in 2021 — although there is no confirmed release date. The first three seasons are currently available on the Peacock streaming service. Disclosure: PopCulture is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.