Never let it be said that Cole Hauser isn't an outdoorsman.
The actor, 45, who portrays Rip Wheeler on Paramount Network's hit series Yellowstone, was more than game to be shot in a water trough for the "Change of Scenery" portfolio in this year's Sexiest Man Alive issue. "I did a trip with a few buddies of mine in Costa Rica and we actually never went inside and had a proper shower,” Hauser tells PEOPLE. “I’m pretty accustomed to it. It's refreshing and especially if the water temperature is right, it's just beautiful.”
Shooting on "JD's ranch" on the Yellowstone set in Missoula, Hauser is featured in the same tub that the show's character Beth used for a spontaneous outdoor dip as well. "Minus the champagne or wine that she was drinking," he says, laughing.
The actor, who grew up in Santa Barbara and on a ranch in Oregon, recalls a childhood filled with riding horses and "cruising around with cows and all kinds of different animals that we had," he says. "My mom would ring the dinner bell and the horse that I used to have, Cinnamon, he'd come up and drop his head and I'd just slide down his mane and ride into the house. So I've always been outdoors."
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Having been away from his wife Cynthia and their three kids—sons Ryland, 16, and Colt, 12, and daughter Steely, 7—while on location for the show's fourth season, Hauser says the pandemic has most taught him "just how important it is to take advantage of family," he explains. "It's been a little rough over the last couple of years just because I'm away for five months at a time. It's not easy to parent from afar. Steely is an absolute pistol, and they're great boys. When I'm away they kind of take over, making sure that mom and Steely are watched over. That's how I raised them and I'm proud of them for that."
That's not to say being in Montana doesn't have its perks. "My favorite time of day is sunset and sunrise. Especially up here," he says. "I don't know if you can see these mountains behind us, but the sun basically comes right over this and over the Yellowstone ranch. And it goes right behind these mountains here into Trapper Peak. And it's just to die for. I mean, the magic hour here is just stunning."
While on set, Hauser has been training for his new film Panama with Mel Gibson, which was only amplified by his normal regimen for Yellowstone. "Horseback riding at a very high level is a hell of a workout for core and back and legs," he says. "Riding and roping and cutting and all the different disciplines that we do on the show, it'll keep you in shape."
Wheeler "is a meat and potatoes guy, so I wanted him to look that way," adds the actor of his role. "Now I'm trying to lean out so it's really about food and cardio and being able to lift my own weight. That's a big thing for me is just being life strong."
Another priority in Hauser's world is his relationship with his wife. "We've been together for 25 years," he says. "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."
In 10 years, the actor hopes to be "sitting on a beach with my wife, kids will be out of the house, and we'll have a nice little island somewhere," says Hauser, who will next star in the film The Last Champion. "We're just going to have our feet up, boat kind of out in the ocean, nothing too crazy. Just enjoying the second half of our life."
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