‘Adored LGBT+ icon’ cast as Joe Exotic in Tiger King TV adaptation

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch co-creator John Cameron Mitchell will play ‘Tiger King’ Joe Exotic in an upcoming TV drama, opposite Kate McKinnon.

NBCUniversal announced on Monday (19 April) that Mitchell will join the cast of its upcoming series as the former Oklahoma zoo owner Joseph “Joe Exotic” Maldonado-Passage – who was made famous by the Wondery podcast and Netflix’s hit 2020 documentary Tiger King. The upcoming show, which is one of several projects in the wake of the Netflix series success, will also star SNL‘s Kate McKinnon as bisexual big cat lover Carole Baskin.

Mitchell, who has appeared in TV shows Girls and Shrill, told Variety that he is “thrilled” to take on the “role of this modern folk antihero”. He continued: “Joe and I are the same age and like him, I grew up queer in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas so I feel like I know a little bit about this guy and his desperate attempt to conquer an inhospitable world.”

Steven O’Neill, executive vice president of casting and talent development for series producer UCP, said it was clear to the producers that an “over-the-top character like Joe” would need “somebody very special” like Mitchell.

“We are so excited to have John Cameron Mitchell, an adored icon of the LGBTQ community, take on this compelling role,” O’Neill said. “His casting speaks to our ongoing vision of universal storytelling, and we can’t wait for our audiences to experience the show.”

Joe Exotic, currently a working title for the NBCUniversal show, is one of two adaptations on the back of the hit Netflix docuseries. The other series is set to star Nicolas Cage as Joe Exotic and is currently in development at Amazon.

The real Exotic was arrested in September 2018 for conspiring to murder Baskin. He was also convicted on eight counts of violating the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act. Exotic was sentenced to 22 years in prison in January 2020, and he’s tried to get a presidential pardon a couple of times.

A premiere date has yet to be announced, but NBCUniversal has confirmed the Joe Exotic limited series is set to air across NBC, Peacock and USA Network in the US. There’s no news about how international Tiger King fans can view the series.