On February 28, 1993, the eyes of the world suddenly converged on a small religious community just outside Waco, Texas when the FBI conducted a raid on charismatic cult leader David Koresh.
The story of Waco and the fiery gun battle is one of the most misunderstood stories in American history.
A gun battle that left four agents and six civilians dead and dozens injured, a fire that killed 76 men, women and children and endless conspiracy theories, cover-ups and accusations of government recklessness – the true story and tragedy about the small religious community, The Branch Davidians, is ideally set up to be a gripping TV show.
A tense and powerful six-part series, the critically-acclaimed US drama is a must-watch this summer on Alibi (BT TV channel 312/382 HD).
Meet the Waco cast
Taylor Kitsch (True Detective, Friday Night Lights) plays David Koresh
"Everyone has this idea of who he was and the negative connotation of a cult leader and there is so much to Dave that people don’t understand that I am excited to show
"Every time you put the glasses on, you start to mould into it every morning, The clothes, the walk, everything. That’s what it’s about and I love that.
"Having the real Dave Thibodeau behind the camera when you walk down a hallway and he comes out and he’s just like oh my god. This is one of the most ultimate validations an actor can get. I play this guy who is the most complex guy I have played in my entire life."
Andrea Riseborough plays Judy Schneider
Though married to Steve Schneider, she reluctantly sacrifices her marriage to show devotion to Koresh by marrying him and bearing him a child.
Andrea Riseborough is best known for starring in Mandy, The Death of Stalin, Black Mirror, Birdman and Battle of the Sexes.
Rory Culkin (Scream 4, Lords of Chaos, Signs) plays David Thibodeau
Thibodeau’s a drummer living in Los Angeles and just comes across David and all of his charisma. (He was) just going to spend the night with him because the drive home was too long and sort of falls in love with the Davidians and is definitely interested in them because they are not the usual group.
I think what drew Thibodeau to David Koresh is that he is relatable. Priest at the church on Sunday is not relatable, I can’t relate to him, but this guy is like a Rockstar, preaching. It is very unusual and for some reason you open up to him and you don’t even know why. I think Thibodeau hung around, not only because Koresh had these answers that he wanted but he also wanted just the people.
He developed relationships with the kids, he was 22 and got to feel like a man for the first time, I think. I was really nervous to work with the real Thibodeau because there is always pressure on you for any sort of project, but to have the real man sitting across from you. He has been really, really helpful for everyone."
Melissa Benoist (Supergirl, Glee) plays Rachel Koresh
"When the show starts, Rachel is 24, she has been married to Koresh for 10 years. She married him when she was 14. She’s been all over the world with him and since then creating this compound.
"From what I heard from David Thibodeau, who lived in the compound, the words he used was she is queen bee. She was sort of leader of the pack and she was the only woman, that would stand up to him every once and a while that would always voice her opinion even if she knew he wouldn’t hear it.
"But I have a hard time believing any woman would be okay with their husband having a relationship with her younger sister as well and having children with her. From what I gathered about her; she had been pretty sheltered. I can’t even begin to imagine, I tried to put myself in the shoes every day to feel what she must have felt."
John Leguizamo (Bloodline, Romeo + Juliet) plays Jacob Vasquez
"I was supposed to go in there (the house) to investigate the Davidians but I ended up really liking David and respecting him and what he was doing. David asks me to protect them. He knows I am an ATF agent and he wants me to save them and I tried to stop everybody, but nobody listens.
"That’s what I enjoyed about this guy. He is a really straight forward shooter, loyal to the bone. My character got thrown under the bus (and) became the scapegoat. A lot of the guys were told to lie against me. I became the fall guy of the whole thing.
"I become the guy who didn’t warn them when I did warn them, and this guy’s career was over. I started getting some sympathy for the Davidians and understanding that maybe they didn’t do everything above board, but they weren’t completely nefarious either. I think that’s the beauty of Waco, it’s very complex."
Michael Shannon (Little Drummer Girl, Shape of Water) plays Gary Noesner
"Gary is not really a person who spends a lot of time thinking about himself, at least not when he is at work. Gary is someone who spends a lot of time listening and thinking about other people, that’s his job.
"I know that I was personally drawn to following the story of Gary because Gary comes from a place of extreme empathy and a place of extreme thoughtfulness, those are two things that are sorely lacking in the word right now so I was very interested in playing a character who not just has those facets to the personality, but lives and dies by those facets. Maybe someone watching at home will be inspired by Gary to strive for that in their own life.
"Gary himself was not necessarily opposed to applying pressure in any situation. Sometimes he thought it was beneficial and would actually help his job, but this was a very tense situation dealing with the mistakes that the ATF had made, the Davidians could argue that they really hadn’t done anything wrong. There were some quibbles about David’s conduct in particular, but it didn’t really warrant the kind of siege that Waco wound up becoming."
What is an ATF agent?
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is a federal law enforcement organization within the United States Department of Justice.
Episode 2 preview:
The Strangers Across The Street: ATF agent Jacob Vasquez (John Leguizamo) begins undercover surveillance on the compound and befriends David Koresh (Taylor Kitsch) in hope of finding illegal weapons or other activity.
Waco premieres on Alibi on July 1st at 9pm – BT TV channel 312/382 HD.