‘Waco’: Why Taylor Kitsch Almost Gave Up the Role of David Koresh

Waco, a recent miniseries about the infamous Waco siege, drew polarized responses. Some people find it fascinating. Others feel the show does too much to humanize notorious cult leader David Koresh. Regardless, critics found Taylor Kitsch’s performance as Koresh compelling.

His role in Waco is undoubtedly one of the most prominent of Kitsch’s career so far. It introduced him to a generation unfamiliar with his role in Friday Night Lights. Interestingly, Kitsch almost dropped out of the role at the last minute. What drove him to almost quit the role before filming started?

Taylor Kitsch | Rich Polk/Getty Images for Viacom

Why it was hard for Taylor Kitsch to commit to ‘Waco’

Kitsch told Rolling Stone “I almost pulled out a month and a half [before the filming began]. I think I was in too deep. You spend eight hours a day in this 1,000-square-foot apartment in Austin playing guitar and reading about this tragedy every single day.”

Reading about the siege was emotionally difficult for him “It just started to really weigh on me. I had no outlet. And I was probably just scared sh*tless and panicked.” In fact, he told Collider he had a “small” panic attack.

The day he discussed quitting Waco with the series’ executives was painful for him. “I didn’t get sleep that day and was feeling vulnerable, and [I] was just like, ‘Hey, I wanna know the process of the repercussions if I pull out right now, because I don’t know if this is a story I want to tell.’”

The upsides of appearing in ‘Waco’

The Waco trailer

RELATED: ‘Waco’: What Happened to the Children David Koresh Released Before the Fire?

The stress of the role caused Kitsch to take a few days off of work. However, once he played Koresh, he found the experience fulfilling. “I loved doing it. I loved exploring these relationships, with one wife to another, and hearing how good it was going with [Michael] Shannon. It was an awesome experience.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kitsch executive produced Waco in addition to starring in it. He enjoyed his behind-the-scenes involvement in the series. He liked coming up with ideas with both the show’s producers and cast.

What Taylor Kitsch did to play David Koresh

A marker commemorating David Koresh | Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

RELATED: Who Was David Koresh? Taylor Kitsch Portrays the Real-Life Cult Leader in ‘Waco,’ Now Streaming on Netflix

Ultimately, Kitsch put quite a bit of work into the role. IndieWire reports he lost weight, changed his accent, and changed his hairstyle. In order to look like Koresh, he had to wear a specialty wig which took quite a long time to put on.

All this effort was probably for the best. If Koresh was playing Socrates, for example, he’d have lots of wiggle room as nobody knows what Socrates looked like and sounded like. However, many people remember news coverage of the Waco siege and know what Koresh looked like and sounded like. Kitsch would garner acclaim for his committed performance although Waco as a whole received mixed reviews.

Also see: ‘Waco’: The New Leader of Branch Davidians is Nothing Like David Koresh