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Why David Koresh From Waco Looks So Familiar

Deep in the heart of central Texas lies a sleepy little city by the name of Waco. For much of its existence, Waco wasn't famous for much, save for the invention of Dr. Pepper in the late 19th Century. In the early months of 1993, that all changed, and not for the better. In fact, as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms began their siege of the Branch Davidian compound in the early hours of February 23 of that year, the nation waited with bated breath to see exactly what would happen.

What they witnessed was the beginning of a months-long standoff between the devoted followers of religious zealot David Koresh and government forces as bent on exposing the man as a sexual abuser of minors as on recovering a reported cache of illegal weapons. When the standoff ended in April of '93, it did so at the cost of 86 Branch Dividian lives, and the lives of 4 ATF agents. While the hows and whys of those deaths remain a point of contention, the tragic episode stands as a compelling study in religious fanaticism and the cost of government intervention.

More than two decades on, that episode is still being explored in books and cinematic adaptations. The latest such effort comes in the form of Paramount Network's thrilling limited series Waco, which explores the Branch Davidian tragedy from both sides of the fray. It does so behind the work of A-list talents like Michael Shannon, Andrea Riseborough, John Leguizamo, and Julia Garner. While those performers ably bring their real-life counterparts to vivid life in Waco, the actor tasked with portraying David Koresh frequently steals the show throughout. That actor is Taylor Kitsch, and while he's all but unrecognizable in the role, you've absolutely seen his face before. Here's why David Koresh from Waco looks so familiar.   

Taylor Kitsch battled some serious demons in season 2 of True Detective

While you may not completely recognize his face in Waco, we're betting you did recognize Taylor Kitsch's name, because he's been around for a couple of decades, now, and has built an impressive acting résumé. That résumé includes a memorable stint in one of HBO's most critically adored shows. Unfortunately, that stint ended up coming in the least critically successful season of said series.

The show in question is, of course, HBO's anthology crime saga True Detective, which premiered to rave reviews in the winter of 2014 behind the work of Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, and series director Cary Joji Fukunaga. Sadly, none of those talented individuals returned for True Detective's second season. That forced series creator Nick Pizzolatto to conjure a new tale of cops and criminals for the show's second run of episodes. In doing so, he also put together a seriously impressive cast to bring those stories to light, with Rachel McAdams, Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughan, Taylor Kitsch, and Kelly Reilly all climbing aboard for True Detective's second go-'round.

With such a stacked cast, season 2 may well have provided too much of a good thing for Pizzolatto and his writing team, as they struggled through an underwhelming, tragically unfocused run of episodes overstuffed with too many characters and narrative entanglements. Though Kitsch's character, Paul Woodrough, was frequently at the center of the season's melodrama, he was just as frequently among its more interesting individuals, coping with a treasure trove of personal anguish and inner demons that would've been enough for an entire season of television in and of themselves. 

Taylor Kitsch played John Carter for Disney

Like many up-and-coming actors, Taylor Kitsch's early years were spotted with supporting roles opposite bigger names. Like many young actors, Taylor Kitsch was once gifted a coveted role in legitimate blockbuster with franchise potential. And, like so many youngsters before him, things didn't quite work out for Taylor Kitsch in his first taste of blockbuster life. 

To be fair, that doesn't have much to do with Kitsch, himself. The truth is, there are not many people in or out of showbiz who could tell you exactly what went wrong with Disney's 2012 tentpole, John Carter. The film was, after all, based on a beloved science-fiction novel from Edgar Rice Burroughs, directed by Andrew Stanton (Finding NemoWall-E), and featured a stellar supporting cast fronted by Bryan Cranston, Samantha Morton, Willem Dafoe, and Thomas Haden Church. It also had the full power of the Mouse House behind it, including a whopping $250 million budget.

Still, when John Carter finally hit theaters in 2012, it did so behind a middling critical response, and crippling word of mouth, with the film's unintentional campiness most frequently mentioned as its biggest problem. Not surprisingly, the filmwhich is nowhere near as bad as you've heard, became one of the biggest box office bombs in Disney history, claiming just north of $73 million at U.S. box offices, and barely recouping its mammoth budget with its worldwide take of just over $284 million). In the wake of this debacle, Andrew Stanton quickly went back to animation with 2016's Finding Dory, while Taylor Kitsch quickly returned to the supporting player scene.

Taylor Kitsch lived for the game on Friday Night Lights

Though it's quite likely you've seen Taylor Kitsch in one of his big -creen roles over the years, it's far more likely you recognize him from his early days on television. Kitsch did, after all, feature prominently in one of the best-loved dramas of the 2000s, one that also proved small-screen adaptations of big-screen successes aren't always doomed to failure.

Based on the 2004 film of the same name (itself based on a beloved non-fiction book), the TV show in question is NBC's rousing sports drama, Friday Night Lights. If you somehow slept on the book, the movie, and the series, Friday Night Lights follows the travails of a coach and the players of a powerhouse football program in a small Texas townMuch of the series is focused on the personal and professional life of the coach, played with subdued gusto by the great Kyle Chandler, but, as in many high school-set series, there's plenty of time devoted to the lives of the youngsters enmeshed in both on- and off-field drama.

Among Friday Night Lights' young cast were future stars like Jesse Plemmons, Adrienne Palicki, and Michael B. Jordan. Taylor Kitsch also appeared in 68 of the show's 76 episodes as the roguish star running back Tim Higgins. If we aren't being too bold, we'd say he was frequently brilliant on the series, imbuing his stoic character with a natural charisma and hard-earned wisdom even as he was frequently boozing it up and generally running amok all over town.

Taylor Kitsch almost joined the mile high club in Snakes on a Plane

Of course, if you do recognize Taylor Kitsch from one of his big-screen ventures, it's entirely likely that venture came in his better-than-the-film turn as Gambit in 2009's dreadful X-Men Origins: Wolverine. If you happen to recognize Kitsch from another movie, however, it may well be for his hilarious appearance in the Samuel L. Jackson-starring, horror-tinged camp-fest the world came to know as Snakes on a Plane

If you are unaware of the Snakes on a Plane legacy, it became a bit of a pre-release sensation largely due to it's knowingly silly name, and because Jackson infamously turned up in the trailer of the film to utter the now iconic phrase, "I'm motherf***ing tired of these motherf***ing snakes on this motherf***ing plane!" Unfortunately, there really isn't much more to the movie than a clever title, as its plot is about the planned assassination of a witness against the mob by through use of deadly snakes ... and that's more or less it. Audience response, too, was tepid, leaving studio executives with a valuable lesson about the difference between tongue-in-cheek online embrace and real box office receipts. 

If you managed to miss Kitsch in the film, it's because he wasn't actually in Snakes on a Plane for very long. In fact, his horny newlywed was one of the first characters to die. There's little doubt you remember his and his new bride's tragic attempt to join the Mile-High Club, as it was indeed interrupted by a bunch of motherf***ing snakes on their motherf***ing plane. Fortunately, it was far from the last we'd see of Kitsch and, as his Waco performance indicates, he has plenty more left in the tank.