PARAMOUNT NETWORK AND WEINSTEIN TELEVISION
Derek Lawrence
September 25, 2017 AT 06:12 PM EDT

Taylor Kitsch is back in Texas — but with a very different look.

As evidenced in the first images from Waco, the Friday Night Lights star has undergone quite the transformation for his role as cult leader David Koresh.

Set to premiere in January on Paramount Network, the six-episode event series chronicles the 1993 standoff between federal agents and the Branch Davidians religious sect. After 51 days, the conflict ended with a deadly fire that claimed the lives of Koresh and 76 of his followers.

“It was four-plus months of prep for me,” Kistch, who’s most known for playing Tim Riggins on FNL, told PEOPLE of channeling Koresh. “From losing just around 30 pounds, to listening to hundreds of hours of phone calls of the tapes with [FBI negotiator] Gary Noesner and the FBI and the ATF to Child Protective Services, to reading David Thibodeau’s book a few times.”

PARAMOUNT NETWORK AND WEINSTEIN TELEVISION
PARAMOUNT NETWORK AND WEINSTEIN TELEVISION

The project is based on two biographies: A Place Called Waco, from Thibodeau, a surviving Branch Davidian, and Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator, from the lead FBI negotiator Gary Noesner’s biography. 

Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire) costars as Noesner, while John Leguizamo, Andrea Riseborough, Rory Culkin, Melissa Benoist, Paul Sparks, Shea Whigham, Camryn Manheim, and Julia Garner round out the cast.

Waco premieres in January 2018.

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