Actors Andrea Riseborough, Rory Culkin, Paul Sparks and Shea Whigham have joined the cast of “Waco,” a six-part event series based on the gripping true story of the 51-day standoff that began with an ATF raid of a religious sect in Waco, Texas and resulted in a deadly fire. The series will air on Paramount Network in 2018.
“We are fired up by this wonderful cast, assembled by Harvey and the entire ‘Waco’ team,” says Ted Gold, Senior Vice President, Scripted Original Series, Paramount Network. Each of these actors bring such complexity and authenticity to everything they do and we can’t wait to see them in these roles.”
“Waco” will reveal the untold story exploring the true life details leading up to and chronicling the 1993 standoff between the FBI, ATF and David Koresh’s spiritual sect, The Branch Davidians. Told from several perspectives of those most intimately involved in both sides of the conflict, this story has never been shared on television before – and is surprising in its stark contrast to the media narrative at the time and what is remembered of Waco almost 25 years later.
Andrea Riseborough will play Judy, wife of Steve Schneider, who reluctantly sacrifices her marriage to show devotion to David Koresh.
Riseborough is an accomplished British stage and film actress. Her film appearances include “Nocturnal Animals,” and “Birdman” among many others. She will next be seen starring in “Battle of the Sexes,” “Burden,” “The Death of Stalin” and “Mindhorn.” Riseborough’s television credits include roles in the critically acclaimed miniseries “National Treasure” and the Netflix series “Bloodline.” She is represented by CAA, Untitled Entertainment and Independent Talent Group.
Rory Culkin will portray David Thibodeau, a young musician who joins David Koresh’s band. Though initially reluctant to join Koresh, he eventually undergoes a dramatic evolution from an agnostic to a true believer.
Culkin was nominated for a “Breakthrough Actor” Gotham Award for his performance as the title role in “Gabriel,” which won critical acclaim after its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival and was recently released in theatres to rave reviews. He has also starred in the films “Electrick Children,” “Twelve,” “Lymelife,” and “You Can Count on Me.” Culkin was most recently seen in “Columbus,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. He recently wrapped production on “Lords of Chaos” and “Unchained.” Culkin is represented by Paradigm and Brookside Artist Management.
Paul Sparks joins the cast as Steve Schneider. Schneider was one of David Koresh’s closest confidants and supporters but becomes deeply conflicted once his wife announces she’s pregnant with Koresh’s child.
Sparks is best known for his Screen Actors Guild Award-winning role as Mickey Doyle in the HBO period drama series “Boardwalk Empire” and for his Primetime Emmy® Award-nominated role as Thomas Yates in the Netflix political drama series “House of Cards.” His other recent TV credits include “The Night Of…” and “The Girlfriend Experience.” Sparks’ film credits include “Deception,” “Afterschool,” “The Missing Person,” “Mud,” “Parkland,” “Stealing Cars” and “Midnight Special.” Sparks recently wrapped production on “The Greatest Showman” for 20th Century Fox and “Thoroughbred,” which just premiered at Sundance and will be distributed by Focus Features. He is represented by Randi Goldstein at Gersh NY.
Shea Whigham will play the tactical commander of the FBI, known within the Bureau for his bravado.
Shea Whigham is best known for his role as Eli Thompson on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and currently has recurring television roles “Fargo” and “Vice Principals.” His filmography includes roles in “Silver Linings Playbook,” “American Hustle,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Star Trek Beyond.” He can currently be seen on the big screen in “Kong: Skull Island.” Additional upcoming film projects include Netflix’s “Death Note,” “High Wire Act” and “LAbyrinth,” about the murder investigations of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. Whigham is represented by CAA and Principal Entertainment.
Michael Shannon has already been announced to star as lead FBI negotiator, Gary Noesner, with the role of the infamous cult leader, David Koresh, to be played by Taylor Kitsch. John Leguizamo also recently joined the cast ATF agent Robert Rodriguez.
“Waco” is written by John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle (“No Escape”) and will be directed by John Erick Dowdle.
Shannon, Kitsch, the Dowdle brothers and Salvatore Stabile will executive produce the series. Gold and Lauren Ruggiero, Vice President, Scripted Programming, will oversee the project for Paramount.