The Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV) has just released the first three photos from Waco, the network's new event series on the 1993 FBI siege that took place in Waco, Texas. The images give fans their first look at Taylor Kitsch as cult leader David Koresh, of the Branch Davidians, with this six-part event series following the epic 51-day standoff at their compound in Waco, Texas. Along with these new photos, Taylor Kitsch offered new details in preparing for this iconic role.
Waco will forever change the way the dramatic siege will be viewed. The landmark series will be the definitive untold story exploring the true life details leading up to and chronicling the 51- day siege between the FBI, ATF and David Koresh's spiritual sect, The Branch Davidians. Told from several perspectives of those most intimately involved from both sides of the conflict, including surviving Branch Davidians which has never been shared on television before, is surprising in its stark contrast to the media narrative at the time and what is remembered of Waco almost 25 years later. People spoke with Taylor Kitsch, who revealed his preparation involved reading David Thibodeau's book, A Place Called Waco: A Survivor's Story, who was one of the Waco survivors. Here's what Taylor Kitsch had to say about his preparations, and working with the author.
"It was four-plus months of prep for me. From losing just around 30 pounds, to listening to hundreds of hours of phone calls of the tapes with [FBI negotiator] Gary Noesner and the FBI and the ATF to Child Protective Services, to reading David Thibodeau's book a few times. He's been nothing but amazing. Even after 25 years, you can tell it's not only life-altering, but to this day there's an injustice there, and you see it. To have access to Dave, who is one of the nine survivors of the final siege, was huge to have. He was on set every day, and he really helped in the sense of reaffirming a lot of these choices that I was making. I'm educated in nutrition and training, so the beauty of it is that I had four months to do it. So on Jan. 2, 2017, I started dieting. I didn't have a lot to lose, but you have four months to lose 6 to 7 pounds a month. It wasn't as difficult as it had been in the past, when you didn't have the right amount of time - you can hurt your body if you lose that much weight that quick."
The cast also includes Michael Shannon as lead FBI negotiator, Gary Noesner, Melissa Benoist as Rachel Koresh, the legal wife of Branch Davidian leader David Koresh and considered the matriarch of Mount Carmel, Julia Garner as Michelle Jones, the younger sister of David Koresh's wife Rachel, whom also had a child with Koresh and John Leguizamo as ATF agent Robert Rodriguez, who was sent into Koresh's Mount Carmel to gather evidence and build a federal case against the Branch Davidians but forged a bond with the people inside. The diverse cast is rounded out by Paul Sparks as Steve Schneider, one of David Koresh's closest confidants and supporters but becomes deeply conflicted once his wife announces she's pregnant with Koresh's child, Andrea Riseborough as Judy, wife of Steve Schneider, who reluctantly sacrifices her marriage to show devotion to David Koresh, Rory Culkin as David Thibodeau, a young musician who joins David Koresh's band, who eventually undergoes a dramatic evolution from an agnostic to a true believer, and Shea Whigham as the tactical commander of the FBI, known within the Bureau for his bravado. Here's what Taylor Kitsch had to say about seeing himself in the full costume for the first time.
"I loved it. The wardrobe was huge, losing the weight changes your walk, your style, and I think listening to Dave for so many hours, I'd run while listening to these phone conversations and stuff, it's a different cadence, there's a higher pitch that he had and not that you want to emulate or copy it, you always want to make it your own. That whole look, the glasses were huge for me. Even in your trailer before you go do a scene, you'd be listening to cadence and the inflection. [Koresh] really did live with his heart on his sleeve, and I loved that about him - as an actor too, you go through every emotion possible with Dave and you see it in the six hours, literally everything, so as an actor it's an incredible challenge to say the least. I learned a lot about myself as well through learning both sides and formulating an educated opinion on it. I was like 99-plus percent of the people who are going to start watching this [and don't know the whole story], in the sense of we only knew or know what we were told and what they want you to know. The deeper I got into this, the more it unfolded of what exactly happened from the civil rights to the $50 warrant that they had, to the lack of jurisdiction - there are literally jaw-dropping things that happened that the FBI and ATF did during that 51-day siege, it's genuinely hard to believe that this happened only 25 years ago."
Shannon, Kitsch, and the Dowdle brothers will executive produce the series along with TWC Co-Chairmen Harvey Weinstein and Bob Weinstein, President and COO David Glasser, Co-head of Production Jennifer Malloy, and Head of Scripted Television Megan Spanjian of Weinstein Television. The series is based on two biographies, A Place Called Waco, by Branch Davidian David Thibodeau, one of the nine survivors of the final fire on April 19, 1993, and Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator, written by the FBI's Special Agent in Charge of Negotiations Gary Noesner. Take a look at the new photos from Waco below.