How Taylor Kitsch Completely Transformed Himself to Play Waco's David Koresh

Exclusive: Taylor Kitsch sounds off on taking on the role of David Koresh in Paramount Network's new limited series, Waco, including losing serious weight

By Tierney Bricker Jan 24, 2018 7:05 PMTags
Watch: Taylor Kitsch Dishes on Playing David Koresh in "Waco"

So long, Tim Riggins. Hello, David Koresh.

Taylor Kitsch fans might be surprised by what they see when they tune into the premiere of Waco, Paramount Network's new miniseries, as the Friday Night Lights star takes on the role of David Koresh, the infamous leader of the Branch Dravidian movement.

For the six-part series, which debuts tonight, Kitsch completely transformed himself to play Koresh, who died during the 1993 stand-off between his followers and the FBI at his compound in Waco, Texas (81 members of his movement also died).

"He's obviously an incredibly complex guy and very enigmatic and charismatic and manipulative and everything else under the sun," Kitsch told E! News of taking on the role of Koresh at Waco's New York City premiere. "Just months and months of prep and great people around me, great crew, great script and obviously the events, to kind of shed some truth on this was an empowering thing for all of us."

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While living in the head-space of Koresh was challenging for Kitsch, who is also an executive producer, he revealed it's actually the time immediately after the cameras stop rolling that is the most difficult for him. 

"The toughest was when you're wrapped for me, when you're done-done," he said. "But you prep for that as much as you can and it's going to take a couple of months to get back to feeling good in your own skin, to be honest."

Another bonus of production ending? "I could eat after, so that was exciting," Kitsch admitted, as he lost a lot of weight to play Koresh, leading to a "jarring" transformation for his co-stars.

"It was almost jarring the first day that we saw him on set," Melissa Benoist, who plays Koresh's legal wife, Rachel, said of Kitsch's transformation. "How much he had weight he had lost, the transformation he went through physically. he was so regimented an dedicated and that was impressive to see. "

To hear more from Kitsch and his co-stars about how he became an "animal" to take on the role, watch our interviews from the premiere above.

Waco premieres tonight (Wednesday, Jan. 24) at 10 p.m. on Paramount Network (formerly Spike).