As the nation approaches the 25th anniversary of the federal siege on David Koresh’s Branch Davidian compound, Paramount Network will present the six-part television event “Waco” premiering Wednesday, January 24 at 10 pm, ET/PT.
Featuring an all-star cast including Michael Shannon, Taylor Kitsch, Andrea Riseborough, John Leguizamo, Melissa Benoist, Paul Sparks, Shea Whigham, Rory Culkin, Julia Garner and Camryn Manheim, Paramount Network’s “Waco” chronicles this true story told from perspectives of those who were intimately involved.
In February 1993, the eyes of the world converged on Mount Carmel, a small religious community located just outside Waco, TX. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) had just conducted a massive raid on David Koresh and his followers, known as the Branch Davidians. After what became the longest gun battle in U.S. law enforcement history, four ATF agents and six civilians were dead and dozens more were wounded. A 51-day standoff ensued, and the conflict ended after an FBI assault led to a fire that engulfed Mount Carmel, killing 76 men, women, and children.
What precipitated the ATF raid, and what transpired over the ensuing standoff, remains one of the most misunderstood stories in American history. Based on two biographies, Waco: A Survivor’s Story, 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 Head of Crisis Negotiation Unit Gary Noesner, the six-part scripted television series “Waco” will forever change the way the dramatic siege will be viewed.
The cast of characters include:
Gary Noesner (Michael Shannon)
Noesner is one of the FBI’s top negotiators and the head of the Crisis Negotiation Unit. At Waco, Noesner quickly finds himself fighting a two-front war. He must contend with both the FBI tactical division’s growing impatience and the Branch Davidians’ distrust of law enforcement.
David Koresh (Taylor Kitsch)
Koresh is the leader of the Branch Davidians, a religious community located just outside Waco, TX. He is equally as charming as he is moody and self-indulgent. Koresh is a self-proclaimed second messiah whose authoritarian leadership has him in complete control of his followers, who hang on his every word.
Judy Schneider (Andrea Riseborough)
Though married to Steve Schneider, she reluctantly sacrifices her marriage to show devotion to Koresh by marrying him and bearing him a child.
Jacob Vazquez (John Leguizamo)
Vasquez is sent by the ATF into Koresh’s Mount Carmel community to gather evidence and build a federal case against the Branch Davidians, but surprisingly forges a bond with David Koresh and the people of Mount Carmel.
Rachel Koresh (Melissa Benoist)
The first wife of Branch Davidian leader David Koresh and considered the matriarch of the Mount Carmel religious community.
Steve Schneider (Paul Sparks)
Schneider is the glue that holds Mount Carmel together. It is Steve’s recruiting skills as much as David’s theology that has expanded the Branch Davidians. Schneider is one of Koresh’s closest confidants and supporters but becomes deeply conflicted once his wife announces that she is pregnant with Koresh’s child.
Mitch Decker (Shea Whigham)
Decker is the tactical commander of the FBI. Known within the bureau for his bravado, he clashes with FBI negotiator Gary Noesner over their opposing philosophies of how to get the Branch Davidians to come out.
David Thibodeau (Rory Culkin)
Thibodeau is a young musician who joins David Koresh’s band. Though initially reluctant to join the followers at Mount Carmel, he eventually undergoes a dramatic evolution from agnostic to a true believer.
Michelle Jones (Julia Garner)
Michelle is the younger sister of David Koresh’s first wife, Rachel. She is also married to Koresh and has a child with him.
Balenda Thibodeau (Camryn Manheim)
Mother of David Thibodeau, one of Koresh’s close followers within the compound. During the standoff, she strikes an unlikely relationship with hostage negotiator Gary Noesner and David Koresh’s mother, as they watch their sons’ respective fates unfold on television.
Wayne Martin (Demore Barnes)
Martin is a Harvard Law School graduate and father of seven who serves as Mount Carmel’s resident lawyer.
Edward Wiggins (Christopher Stanley)
Wiggins is an ATF commander who ordered the initial botched raid on the Davidians compound.
Ron Engleman (Eric Lange)
Engleman is a local radio talk host who refuses to trust law enforcement’s version of events and becomes a strange bedfellow for the Branch Davidians, offering them a platform to tell their side of the conflict.
“Waco” was developed for television by John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle (“No Escape”). Episodes were written by John Erick Dowdle (Eps 1, 2, 6), Drew Dowdle (Eps 1, 2, 6), Salvatore Stabile (Eps 3 & 5) and Sarah Nicole Jones (Ep 4). Episodes were directed by John Erick Dowdle (Eps 1-3 & 6) and Dennie Gordon (Eps 4 & 5).
John Erick Dowdle, Drew Dowdle, Salvatore Stabile, Michael Shannon and Taylor Kitsch are executive producers of “Waco.” Keith Cox is the President of Development and Production for Paramount Network. Ted Gold and Lauren Ruggerio are the Executives in Charge of Production for Paramount Network.
About Paramount Network:
Paramount Network is a premium entertainment destination that pushes the limits of story-telling with bold original scripted and non-scripted series. Inspired by over a century of cinema, Paramount Network is where today’s brightest stars bring the experience of the big screen to every screen with stories that are immersive, inclusive, and deeply personal. For more information, visit www.ParamountNetwork.com.
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