Cole Hauser: Fascinating characters, gorgeous vistas captivate ‘Yellowstone’ fans

Cole Hauser's contemporary western, "Yellowstone," returns for Season 3 on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Paramount Network

NEW YORK, June 21 (UPI) — “Yellowstone” star Cole Hauser credits the success of Paramount Network’s contemporary western to excellent writing, a compelling story, well-rounded characters and a beautiful backdrop.

Season 3 will debut Sunday.

The show follows wealthy John Dutton (Kevin Costner) and his family as they fight developers, government officials and criminals to hold on to their enormous cattle ranch, which borders Yellowstone National Park and a Native American reservation.

“There are so many things [the fans] love: obviously, they love Kevin Costner, Taylor Sheridan’s writing for different characters and how he has developed them, the setting. I don’t think a lot of people — probably since ‘A River Runs Through It’ — have seen the topography of Montana the way this has been filmed,” Hauser told UPI in a phone interview Monday.

Another aspect that ropes fans in is the stormy romance between Hauser’s character, the Duttons’ fiercely loyal ranch foreman and enforcer, Rip Wheeler, and John’s brilliant, steely daughter, Beth (Kelly Reilly).

“People are seemingly liking our relationship and kind of how our heart strings are being pulled,” Hauser said.

Rip loves Beth, his childhood sweetheart, unconditionally, even though she is cruel, drinks incessantly and is always spoiling for a fight.

Hauser thinks Rip and Beth can be happy for the long haul.

“They are on their way to being a powerhouse couple. There will be bumps in the road, like every relationship,” Hauser said. “It can’t be perfect, nor are they perfect people. I think what is enjoyable to watch is that they are not perfect.

“They have issues, they have demons; that is what makes them so complex,” he said, noting in Season 3, “They’ve found a pretty nice street that is smooth, but that will change over time, and I think the audience will enjoy going on the ride with the two of them this year.”

Rip isn’t a judgmental guy, Hauser added.

“I don’t think you can be, if you are killing people. You just have to be able to walk through life and take it for what it is,” he said.

The actor is keeping quiet on how the introduction of Lost alum Josh Holloway’s rich and handsome real-estate developer character this season might affect Rip and Beth.

“You have to wait and see,” he laughed. “If I say one thing, it totally gives away the other. I leave it to you guys to let it slowly burn throughout the season.”

Sheridan, whose credits include “Sicario,” “Wind River” and “Hell or High Water,” is the show’s writer and co-creator.

He encouraged Hauser to explore and develop Rip as a complicated man — someone not related to the Duttons by blood, but who regards them as his own family and will do anything to protect them.

“Rip wasn’t in Season 1 what he is going into Season 4,” Hauser said. “It’s always nice when you are with somebody like Taylor who is passionate like you are about creating something special and new that we haven’t seen in a long time in American television or cinema. I’m blessed to have a partner like that that lets me play at the highest level.”

Hauser isn’t basing his portrayal of Rip on anyone he actually knows, but he has encountered people with some of his qualities, and he understands what makes the cowboy tick.

“I grew up in Oregon and Florida and I’ve been around Texans,” he said. “My family is from Montana. Being around cowboys throughout my life and working with them on different shows like ‘The Hi-Lo Country,’ he is just a piece of different people that I have met.

“The kind of romantic side of him is something that I haven’t the ability to play a lot in my career and I’ve been kind of yearning to do that, so this has been a great opportunity.”

The “High Incident” and “Rogue” actor also loves filming outside in one of the prettiest parts of the United States for Yellowstone.

“It’s, honestly, a blessing to go to work every day, to get on a horse on these amazing ranches,” he said.

“Usually, you’re waiting around in between shots and you’re bored and you’re just sitting there, going, ‘This is miserable. Can we shoot?’

“This lets you slow down and you’ll be looking out and there will be a bald eagle. There will be deer and elk. Everything is just alive. There are these snow-capped mountains. The first couple of weeks you’re there, you feel like you’re in a painting.”

While the show has millions of fans, Hauser hopes it will attract even more viewers since many people have been cooped up at home during the coronavirus pandemic and might be craving a glimpse of the great outdoors.

“This show hasn’t really totally resonated on the edges of America, but I’m hoping that with people being inside in California and New York that they have the opportunity to see the show and see this is a beautiful country and there is a lot to do in the outdoors. I think everybody feels a little healthier when they are out there,” he said.

Yellowstone co-stars Luke Grimes, Wes Bentley and Kelsey Asbille.


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