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The Astonishing Evolution of ‘Yellowstone’ Star Cole Hauser From Geek To Gorgeous

We've never seen a transformation like this — some men do improve with time!

Fight scenes, brutal violence, horseback riding and romance are all in a day’s work for 48-year-old actor Cole Hauser, who has played fan-favorite rough and tumble ranch foreman Rip Wheeler on the hit Paramount + television series Yellowstone since 2018. But you may have been watching Cole Hauser movies and TV shows for 30 years…and not even realized it was him!

In fact, our favorite brooding cowboy is descended from Hollywood royalty. Here we take a look at the best Cole Hauser movies and TV shows before Yellowstone and get to know the hunk under the black Stetson and aviator sunglasses.

Cole Hauser movies and tv shows with Kevin Costner
Cole Hauser as Rip Wheeler and Kevin Costner as John Dutton, Yellowstone Season 2, 2019Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

Cole Hauser growing up

Born Cole Kenneth Hauser on a ranch just North of Santa Barbara, California, the 6’1 tall thespian has Hollywood royalty in his blood. He is the great-grandson of film mogul Harry Warner, who was one of the founding partners of Warner Bros. Entertainment back in 1923. 

Cole hauser as a boy
Cole Hauser age 5Instagram/cass.warner

Actually having strong Hollywood roots is a blessing,” Cole said in a Cigar & Spirits interview.  “When you think about what my family has been able to accomplish on the Warner side – they created sound and film. In many respects, they changed Hollywood. My mom (Cass Warner) is in the business and developing a show right now about the family history.  My dad (Wings Hauser) is a musician and actor.” That being said, show biz is part of Cole’s DNA. 

When Hauser’s parents divorced in 1977, he was two years old. His mother had moved Hauser and his half-brother and sisters from Santa Barbara to a 1500 acre ranch near Eugene, Oregon, and he lost touch with his father. 

There, Cole would patrol the pastures with his BB gun and ride horses.  “We used to have a pony named Cinnamon. He would take me out to the Oregon countryside and my mom would ring the bell every night as the sun was going down,” he said. “Later I went and played sports and did other things but eventually came back to riding. It’s like riding a bike. You remember.” 

cole hauser with his mom
Cass Warner with Cole Hauser in 1970sinstagram/colehauser22

Academics was not his strong suit but he participated in all sports. After growing up in Oregon then Florida for a time, eventually, he was admitted to the short-listed circle of talent at a talent summer camp in New England, then won the leading role of the stage play named Dark of the Moon. A standing ovation for his role only encouraged the 16 year-old to leave high school and try his hand at acting.   

Cole Hauser pursues his passion for acting

When Cole told his mom of acting ambitions, the truth was revealed: Her maiden name “Warner,” was in Warner Bros. While Cole thought this family ancestry would open doors for him, it didn’t translate into an easy time making a go of it in Hollywood. In fact, his mom made it as difficult for him as she could.  

For his first audition, she put him on a bus and five hours later he arrived in Los Angeles and walked to whichever studio he had to get to. His auditions would last minutes and the arduous trek back home would begin. Over and over again, Cole made this miserable round trip journey for auditions. 

When his mom realized her son was serious about acting, she revealed another family fact that he didn’t previously know: Cole’s dad, Wings Hauser, was a longtime actor in Los Angeles. Upon his mother’s suggestion, Cole reconnected with his father after a 10-year absence, and moved in with him to be closer to studios. “That was an awesome time because it meant freedom,” he told Men’s Journal.

And soon, doors began opening…

Cole Hauser movies and tv shows

From a thin teenager with curly red hair to a suave villain to the brooding black-haired bearded cowboy we all know and love, here are few of our favorite Cole Hauser movies and tv shows over the last 30 years — see if you can pick him out!

School Ties (1992)

In his first big movie role in 1992’s School Ties, Hauser played Jack Connors. It was on that set where he struck up a close friendship with a pair of cast members: Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. 

Brendan Frasier, Matt Damon and Cole Hauser in School Ties movie
Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Cole Hauser in School Ties, 1992S Karin Epstein/Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

Dazed and Confused (1993)

Hauser played Benny O’Donnell in the cult classic Dazed and Confused. A ginger, fluffy-haired Hauser steals a scene near the beginning of the movie as he loudly warns the “freshers” about the upcoming hazing ritual that is to commence after school. His character is charismatic, easy-going and memorable, despite only a few minutes on screen. Remembering the Dazed days fondly, Hauser recently posted the photo below on his Instagram with the caption: “Throwback to Dazed…Afro is kicking

Cole Hauser in Dazed and confused movie
Cole Hauser as Benny in Dazed and Confused, 1993instagram/colehauser22

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Hauser played a small role in the Academy Award-winning Good Will Hunting as a drinking buddy of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s characters. The movie explores Damon’s journey as a deadbeat janitor who eventually gains the courage to lean into his genius potential, helped by his circle of friends, and therapist played by the late Robin Williams.

Casey Affleck, Cole Hauser, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting movie
Left to right: Casey Affleck, Cole Hauser, Ben Affleck, Matt DamonMiramax

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

2 Fast 2 Furious features Hauser’s best performance as a villain, drug lord Carter Verone. Paul Walker and Tyrese Gibson’s leading duo is assigned to go undercover as street racers and infiltrate Verone’s operation as delivery drivers. He has an intense presence and commands attention.

Cole Hauser and Paul Walker
Cole Hauser and Paul Walker, 2 Fast 2 Furious premier, 2003

Tears of the Sun (2003)

Hauser has worked with action star Bruce Willis multiple in multiple military and action thrillers. Tears of the Sun, a military rescue film set in Nigeria, follows Willis who leads the film as Lieutenant A.K. Waters, tasked with rescuing an American doctor from Nigeria following coup. Hauser plays US Navy James Atkins, one of the team members assigned to the rescue. He is a fierce second-in-command to Willis’ character, and the movie showcases Hauser’s ability add nuance in action roles. Over the years the movie has become a cult classic.

Cole Hauser and Bruce Willis in the movie Tears of the Sun
Cole Hauser and Bruce Willis in Tears Of The Sun, 2003 Frank Masi/Columbia/Kobal/Shutterstock

The Cave (2005)

In the horror movie The Cave, Hauser plays a professional cave explorer tasked to investigate a deep cave system in the Carpathian Mountains. Leading scientists and cave explorers, Hauser’s character comes to discover that the caves are home to a species of dangerous, vampiric creatures.

Cole Hauser in the movie The Cave
Cole Hauser as an explorer in The Cave, 2005 Cos Aelenei/Lakeshore/Screen Gems Inc/Kobal/Shutterstock

Rogue (2013-2017)

The DirecTV series ran for four season and followed an undercover detective named Grace (Thandie Newton). Hauser joined in season 2 as Ethan Kelly, a former soldier who left law school to enlist in the military after 9/11. Ethan runs his security firm with three former military buddies who are all united by a terrible secret, a dark event that has quietly haunted them for years. 

Cole Hauser movies and TV shows
Cole Hauser plays TK in the series Rogue from 2013-2017

Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

Hauser’s again took a military-like role as Secret Service agent Roma alongside the film’s lead, played by Gerard Butler in Olympus has fallen. Hauser’s character has a short but intense part in the movie. 

Cole Hauser Olympus Has Fallen
Rick Yune and Cole Hauser, Olympus Has Fallen, 2013

Lizzie Borden Chronicles (2015)

Hauser joins Golden Globe nominee Christina Ricci in the Lizzie Borden Mini Series on Lifetime where Ricci, reprises her role from the TV movie “Lizzie Borden Took an Ax.” While the 2014 film examines the crimes for which Lizzie was tried, the series is a fictionalized account of the events that took place in her life after her acquittal. When people close to Lizzie begin to die under unusual circumstances once again, detective Charlie Siringo, played by Hauser, becomes determined to prove that she is involved in their deaths.

Cole Hauser in the TV show Lizzie Borden Chronicles
Cole Hauser as Charlie Siringo Lizzie Borden Chronicles, 2015Lifetime

Yellowstone (2018-)

Hauser finally became a household name in the modern Western series, Yellowstone. The calm intensity and the smoldering gazes of his character of Rip Wheeler, Houser seems right at home in this series about an old ranching family fighting to maintain its way of life. He has stolen each scene for five seasons and fans will be interested to see what he does next after the last episodes air in November 2023.

Cole Hauser as Rip Wheeler
Cole Hauser as Rip Wheeler, Yellowstone Season 3, 2020Danno Nell/Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

Cole Hauser getting into cowboy mode

Of all Cole Hauser’s movies and tv shows, Yellowstone has been one of the most physically taxing. When playing Rip, Hauser says he weighs in at about 225 pounds. To bulk up for his formidable role, Hauser does a lot of the same activities that we see Wheeler up to in Yellowstone.  “Horseback riding, as you know, at a very high level, is a hell of a workout for core and back and legs and you name it. Riding and roping and cutting and doing the different disciplines that we do on the show, it’ll keep you in shape,” he told People of his regimen. 

When Hauser is on Yellowstone hiatus, he says staying in this peak condition is a necessity at his age. “You know, it’s one of those things that as you get older, you kind of have to. If you don’t, you’re going to pay for it.”  Ironically, Hauser says that playing Rip Wheeler with all the fights and horseback riding actually helped him heal after a horseback riding accident while filming the movie The Last Champion that resulted in breaking his back. 

Cole Hauser as Rip wheeler movies and tv shows
Yellowstone, Season 1, 2018

“You just gotta get back on the horse and do it,” he told Men’s Journal.  “My back was so bad I couldn’t move around very well, and so I lost strength in my stomach.  What riding ended up doing is strengthening my back and core.”

For a young boy who grew up riding horses, Hauser knows what being in saddle shape is.  “Being in horse shape is a lot different than being in gym shape,” he adds.  “There are a lot of people who think you’re using the reins to steer your horse, but actually a lot happens through the legs and putting the right amount of pressure there with the saddle tongue. You can’t be great at anything unless you work at it, and that’s the same with riding a horse.” 

Cole Hauser’s fiery on-screen romance

While the driving force behind Yellowstone has been John Dutton’s (played by movie star Kevin Costner) battle to keep his Montana real estate, watching the relationship between Rip and Beth is what really captivates fans. 

And it’s the understanding between the two actors that make us believe in their love story and wherever it takes us. “We’re really there for each other,” Hauser told Parade last year on what makes the couple so enticing.  “It’s the freedom to play, to take risks. You can’t fail.” 

Cole Hauser and Kelly Riley movies and TV shows
Cole Hauser as Rip Wheeler and Kelly Reilly as Beth DuttonDanno Nell/Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

Hauser describes Rip’s relationship with Beth: “Everyone has that soulmate, that person who’s kind of the yin to their yang. Rip isn’t interested in butting heads with Beth,” he told Cigar & Spirit.  “He’d rather just walk away.” 

Who is Cole Hauser’s wife?

What Hauser doesn’t turn and walk away from is his marriage to former actress and photographer Cynthia Daniel. The couple have three children, have been together since the 90s, and married in 2006. Hauser told PEOPLE in 2020, “[We’ve been] through so many wonderful ups and downs as relationships do. We’ve stayed strong together and just battled through everything and still love each other.”

Cole Hauser and wife Cynthia movies and TV shows
Cole Hauser and Cynthia Daniel, 2023

Cole Hauser’s wife Cynthia has a twin sister, Brittany, and they began modeling together at 11 years old. They also began acting and were featured in Doublemint Gum commercials as the Doublemint Twins. At 19, they moved to Los Angeles to begin filming season 2 of Sweet Valley High. Brittany continued working as an actress while Cynthia got behind the camera and became a photographer.

Hauser says being away from his wife for months at a time shooting can be tough, but Cynthia would visit Hauser at his home away from home in Montana. They keep the romance alive by scheduling getaways from time to time. So while Rip rides with Beth at his side, Hauser rides off into the sunset with wife Cynthia.  “In 10 years,” he told People, “hopefully we’ll be sitting on a beach, kids will be out of the house and we’ll have a nice little island somewhere.”

Cole Hauser and his wife cynthia

What is Cole Hauser doing next?

With the final episodes of Yellowstone airing in November, Hauser is looking at starting a new chapter. He recently followed 1883 star Sam Elliott’s footsteps and became a spokesperson for Coors beer.

What’s more, Deadline reported that a new spin-off will premiere in December with Matthew McConaughey leading the series. The outlet also noted that “a handful of original Yellowstone cast members” may pop up there, meaning we see Rip again sooner than we think. We can’t wait to see what our favorite cowboy does next!

Read more great FIRST for Women articles here!

‘Yellowstone’ Actress Kelly Reilly Admits: “I Don’t Want To Play Another Beth Dutton”

‘1923’ Was One Of The Most Expensive Shows Ever Made + More Cast and Season 2 Facts

Before He Was A TV Star, Kevin Costner Was A Movie Star — Here, His 14 Sexiest Roles

Bonnie Siegler is an established international writer covering the celebrity circuit for more than 15 years.  Bonnie’s resume includes two books that combine her knowledge of entertaining with celebrity health and fitness and has written travel stories which focus on sustainable living.  She has contributed to magazines including Woman’s World and First for WomenElle, InStyle, Shape, TV Guide and Viva.  Bonnie served as West Coast Entertainment Director for Rive Gauche Media overseeing the planning and development of print and digital content.  She has also appeared on entertainment news shows Extra and Inside Edition.

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