It’s time for the next piece in the story behind Waco in the Paramount+ series, American Tragedies: Waco – The Trials and according to Deadline, production has filled out its cast. Series star, John Leguizamo will be back to step into the role of ATF agent Jacob Vazquez with new-to-the-series actors, David Costabile, J. Smith Cameron, John Hoogenakker, Keean Johnson, and Abbey Lee.
The first season of the series, which debuted in 2018, followed the tragic and unbelievable true story of the Branch Dividians and their leader, David Koresh (Taylor Kitsch). Taking place in 1993, Waco followed the events that led up to a shoddily carried out raid on the religious cult by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). The series showed how political pressure and the failures of the past launched the ATF into an incredibly dangerous situation that resulted in a 51-day standoff and 80 deaths.
Just as the first season of Waco touched on how the events of the Ruby Ridge standoff led to the devastation in Waco, American Tragedies: Waco – The Trials will reveal how the circumstances surrounding the Branch Davidians lit a fire under the ‘Patriot’ movement which would in turn lead to such extremism as the Oklahoma City bombing just two years later. As the title suggests, the followup season will also focus on the conspiracy to murder federal agents charges that were brought up against the surviving members of the Branch Dividians.
Known best for his role as “Wags” in the smash series, Billions, Costabile will hold a gavel as the honorable Judge Smith, the presiding force during the trial. Coming from HBO’s Succession, Smith Cameron will step into the big shoes of the leader and Prophetess of the Branch Davidians, Lois Roden. In real life, Roden’s husband, Benjamin Roden founded the Branch Davidian Seventh-day Adventist Church where he served as co-president alongside his wife until his death. It was then that Lois took over. The series will see Vernon Howell aka David Koresh joining the church at this time.
Hoogenakker (Dopesick) joins as David Koresh’s first Branch Davidians follower, Clive Doyle. Blindly loyal to the cult leader, Doyle stuck by the teachings of Koresh even after Doyle’s daughter was killed during the fire at the Davidian’s base, Mount Carmel. Johnson (Euphoria) signs on to the series as Vernon Howell aka the young David Koresh. He’ll play the religious leader as he persuades followers that he’s God’s chosen Messiah. Finally, Lee (Lovecraft Country) will portray Carol Howe. Proving that one can live a million lives, Howe started her life as a Southern working woman before leaving that life behind to become a neo-Nazi. But it doesn’t end there for Howe who then used her insider information to become a government informant.
While many series’ have only a few interesting characters, creators and showrunners Drew and John Erick Dowdle made sure to fill Waco out with larger than life personalities, most of whom are based on real-life people. The duo also executive produce alongside Michael Shannon who joined the first season as FBI negotiator Gary Noesner.
While no exact date has been released, we do know that the series plans to debut at some point in 2023 to mark the 30th anniversary of the Waco standoff.