Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Michele From Waco Looks So Familiar

In just a couple of short years, Paramount Network has become a major player in the original content game. While ratings behemoth Yellowstone continues to be the network's highest-profile offering, it's currently being given a run for its money by the 2018 mini-series Waco, which is racking up views on Netflix.

For those who've yet to begin the Waco binge, the series follows the tragic story of the radical Branch Davidian religious sect, which found its Waco, TX compound beset by government agents after reports of sexual abuse and the hoarding of high-powered firearms by the group's infamous leader, David Koresh, caught federal attention in 1993. The ensuing raid led to the death of four federal agents and no fewer than 86 of Koresh's followers. 

While the Waco tragedy has been studied and dramatized often, few of those dramatizations have taken quite as much care as Waco in exploring the human element of the story. That's a direct result of the involvement of David Thibodeau, one of the few members who made it out of the compound alive. His wife, Michele, and her daughter were, however, not so lucky.

Of course, Koresh's relationship with Michele Jones (he reportedly "married" her when she was just 12) was a particular point of interest in the federal investigation, and he'd apparently used Thibodeau as a surrogate husband in hopes of covering up his misdeeds. Those actions are vividly depicted in Waco, and they carry particular weight thanks in large part to the performances of the woman who portrays Michele, Julia Garner. If you're wondering why Garner might look familiar, it's because she's currently a pretty hot commodity in the Hollywood landscape. As such, you've almost certainly seen her in some film or TV project, of late. Here's why Michele from Waco looks so familiar.

Julia Garner is the toughest nut in the Ozarks on Ozark

Though she's just 26 years old, Julia Garner has actually been a working actor for nearly a decade, now. While she's frequently been tabbed as an up-and-comer over that period, Garner officially arrived when she claimed the role of Ruth Langmore on Netflix's pitch-black crime saga, Ozark.

The series stars Jason Bateman and Laura Linney as big-city spouses who've escaped to the titular region in hopes of finding a way to launder hundreds of millions of dollars of cartel drug money, thus saving their lives and the lives of their children. While the travails of those characters continue to be the focus of the story, there's little doubt that Garner's spitfire turn as Ruth has very much made her one of the biggest players in Ozark's increasingly dense, dark narrative.

As such, the character has seen increased screen time with every new season of the show. For her part, Garner has continued to turn heads with her feisty performance as the impetuous, tough-as-nails Ruth. In fact, some would even say Garner's fiery work on Ozark has become the very definition of scene-stealing. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences clearly agrees, as it handed the actor her very own Outstanding Supporting Actress statue for her work as Ruth at the 2019 Emmy Awards. After the series' tumultuous third season, we'd be quite surprised if she didn't claim another Emmy in the very near future.

Julia Garner lived a vivid fantasy in Maniac

Ozark is hardly Julia Garner's first Netflix gig. The young actor actually appeared in two episodes of Baz Luhrman's musical drama The Get Down, and is set to feature in ten episodes of the streaming giant's upcoming drama series, Inventing Anna. Back in 2018, Garner also claimed a supporting role in one of the more wildly adventurous originals Netflix has yet produced, the sci-fi mind-bender Maniac.

If you skipped out on Maniac when it landed, we'd urge you to rectify that oversight immediately. Even if it is one of the weirder offerings in the Netflix vault, it also ranks as one of the best. Conjured by True Detective and No Time To Die helmer Cary Joji Fukunaga and The Leftovers producer Patrick Somerville, Maniac features Jonah Hill and Emma Stone as a pair of deeply troubled souls whose lives are upended when they sign up for a radical pharmaceutical trial that quite literally messes with their heads.

As much of Maniac unfolds through electronically-stimulated memories and fantasies, things get super-weird very quickly in the series. If you've already experienced Maniac for yourself and are still struggling to place Julia Garner's role in all the madness, she portrayed the late sister of Emma Stone's Annie whose tragic death was the source of considerable guilt and misery. Of course, it's entirely possible you recall her from the fantastical side of that story, which made impeccable use of Garner's elven features as ... well, a Lord of the Rings-style elf. 

Julia Garner narrowly escaped The Americans

Though Julia Garner is currently earning raves for her searing, starring turn as a besieged P.A. to a powerful executive in The Assistant, the actor has made quite the name for herself as a supporting player throughout her career. She's also lent her talents to some of the best shows on television in recent years, including FX's immaculately-executed, and critically-lauded, Cold War spy drama, The Americans.

Set in the waning days of America's Cold War with the Soviet Union, The Americans found Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys playing deep cover operatives for the KGB who frequently struggled to balance their lives as spies with their lives as parents and model U.S. citizens. Their duplicitous duties naturally allowed for all manner of intriguing characters to enter and exit their orbit in The Americans taut, six-season run. Over the final few seasons of the show, that revolving door of supporting players included Julia Garner.

The actor made her first appearance on The Americans in season 3, as the daughter of a high ranking CIA operative targeted by Russell's and Rhys' KGB power couple. She was befriended by one of Rhys' more intriguing alter-egos, Philip, and, over the course of her 10-episode, four-season arc, she unwittingly fed lots of information to the KGB through their relationship. Fans of the series no doubt recall that relationship very nearly led to her character's capture – and, likely, torture – at the hands of KGB officials, and that Rhys ultimately spared her that dreadful fate by breaking off contact.

Julia Garner feasted on flesh in We Are What We Are

While one of Julia Garner's more memorable early cinematic roles came as Susan in 2012's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, we're betting movie buffs with a taste for fake blood and gore got their first look at her boundless talent when she turned up in the brooding little beast of an indie horror movie We Are What We Are. The film played to raves at both the Sundance and Cannes film festivals in 2013, is currently streaming on Shudder, and is a great fit for any horror lover's queue.

Directed with muted zeal by Jim Mickle, We Are What We Are tells the twisted tale of the Parker clan, a seemingly wholesome family who live on the edge of a small town and mostly keep to themselves. They are, of course, also harboring a gruesome secret based in their family's twisted ancestral customs. When the matriarch of the clan unexpectedly dies, the terrible secret is threatened to be revealed, even as the Parker daughters are being groomed to take over the grisly duties in their mother's absence.

Julia Garner plays one of the Parker siblings in We Are What We Are, and does so opposite the likes of Ambyr Childers, Kelly McGillis, Michael Parks, Larry Fessenden, and future MCU star Wyatt Russell

Julia Garner got her start in one of the most overlooked movies of the past decade

If you're looking to do a deep dive into some of your favorite actors' careers, it can be a bit dangerous to go all the way back to the beginning, because most actors end up appearing in at least a couple bad movies before they actually get to make a good one. In the case of Julia Garner, however, the exact opposite is true, as her very first feature film remains one of the best in which she's ever appeared.

The film in question is 2011's psychological stunner Martha Marcy May Marlene. Don't worry too much if you haven't seen it, because not many people have. Martha Marcy May Marlene played to raves on the 2011 festival circuit, before being all but ignored in its tragically short theatrical run. The film is not only a hauntingly meditative, masterfully realized exploration of the trauma inflicted on a young woman during her time with an abusive cult, but also a bracing look at how those traumas affect her once she escapes.

Martha Marcy May Marlene also features a breakout performance from a pre-Scarlet Witch Elizabeth Olsen, who stars as the damaged woman opposite indie all-stars like John Hawkes, Sarah Paulson, Christopher Abbot, Brady Corbet, and Hugh Dancy. Though Julia Garner's appearance in Martha Marcy May Marlene is very much on the brief side, the then 17 year-old actor more than makes the most of her screen time as the unsuspecting new "recruit" on the verge of joining up with the nefarious cult, in what amounts to a preview of the excellent work she would do down the line in Waco and beyond.