“This is supposed to take an hour?”
The moment Cole Hauser settles in for an early February interview, he makes it clear he’s not a big fan of long conversations. Which is a shame for two reasons: One, because he plays ranch foreman Rip Wheeler on the megahit TV show Yellowstone, so he is very squarely in the media spotlight. Two, because the interview is actually supposed to take two hours.
Hauser isn’t currently filming the show—he’s in Mississippi working on a movie with Morgan Freeman—so his hair is its natural reddish-gray instead of Rip’s jet black. Rather than a cowboy hat, he wears a baseball cap sporting the logo of the Black Rifle Coffee Company, which, like Hauser, is a big supporter of veterans. And instead of Rip’s ranch jacket, he wears a Las Vegas Raiders hoodie; Hauser is a lifelong fan.
“In general, I like to communicate and be done,” he continues, stressing the final word as he sweeps his arms in front of him like a baseball umpire calling Safe! “I have a hard time sitting still.”
He smiles, but there’s a hint of menace behind what he says. It’s pretty clear that Hauser really doesn’t want to sit here schmoozing for an hour (or, uh, two). Rip would no doubt feel the same way. But while the character might, say, hurl venomous snakes at anyone asking too many questions, Hauser settles into a plaid easy chair to discuss a decades-long career culminating in him playing one of the most popular characters on television.
Hauser’s childhood was basically a Yellowstone audition. He was born on a ranch just north of Santa Barbara, and some of his earliest memories are of learning to ride horses. When he was 4, he and his mom moved to a 1,500-acre ranch near Eugene, OR, beginning a period of his youth when he says he was happiest, surrounded by animals while patrolling the pastures with his BB gun. He describes his mom as a vagabond and hippie, and so after a few years in Oregon she and Hauser moved to Clearwater, FL, a jarring transition the actor says he “wouldn’t wish on anyone.” Not that he has anything against Florida; he, his wife and their three kids currently live there.