It took Taylor Kitsch four and a half months and losing 30 pounds before he was prepared to play cult leader David Koresh in “Waco.”
“I had these whiteboards that were like 6×4 all over the house,” he told Page Six during the ATX TV Festival. “So if you were trying to escape it, you really couldn’t … They were everywhere. You’d just be watching TV and there would be a 6×4 whiteboard and you’d have your lines right there. That’s me taking time off. And then I would run them for 2-3 hours in the morning and then before bed. That scripture is a whole other language.”
The Waco siege carried out by the FBI in 1993 resulted in a 51-day standoff at the compound of the Branch Davidians, a religious group in Texas. Law enforcement believed they were stockpiling illegal weapons. The siege ended after the FBI launched a tear gas attack, during which the compound caught on fire. There’s still debate whether the Davidians started the fire or the FBI, but 75 people died, including their leader, Koresh. Only nine Davidians survived the siege.
On top of memorizing the dialogue-heavy material, Kitsch, 37, said he watched hundreds of hours of clips from child protective services, negotiation tapes, Koresh’s sermons and recruitment tapes and letters Koresh wrote to try and bring followers in. He also read survivor David Thibodeau’s book, which the series is partly based on, multiple times.
“It was just an enormous amount of material, which I loved, and then you pick what you feel what’s going to connect,” he told us.
He also explained they went through autopsy reports and had professionals explain exactly what they think happened inside the compound. Thibodeau was also on set to consult.
Kitsch also talked about all the weight he had to lose for the role.
“I had a meat lovers pizza,” he said of the first thing he ate after filming. “I didn’t drink for eight months, so I had a couple cold beers.”
This article originally appeared on Page Six.