The director and actor ― best known for co-creating and starring in the “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” rock musical that went from stage to screen to Broadway ― will embody the animal trainer made famous by the “Tiger King” Netflix documentary. “Saturday Night Live” star Kate McKinnon was already tabbed to portray his rival, Carole Baskin.
The story, which will air across NBC, Peacock and the USA Network, will focus on Baskin, a big-cat advocate, seeking to shut down Joe Exotic’s zoo operation when she learns he is exploiting tigers for profit.
“But Carole has a checkered past of her own and when the claws come out, Joe will stop at nothing to expose what he sees as her hypocrisy,” Deadline wrote of the production synopsis. “The results prove dangerous.”
“I’m thrilled to take on the role of this modern folk antihero,” the Tony-winning Mitchell said, per The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
Spoiler alert: Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is serving a 22-year sentence for plotting to have Baskin murdered, in addition to violating federal wildlife laws. The imprisoned zookeeper hoped to no avail to be pardoned by former President Donald Trump before he left office.
Baskin re-emerged in headlines at the end of 2020 when one of her tigers attacked a volunteer. Baskin said the worker wasn’t following safety protocols
The “Tiger King” documentary offered a welcome distraction for many people at the start of the pandemic.
A rival scripted production was reportedly in the works as of May 2020 at Amazon with Nicolas Cage as Joe Exotic.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said that “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” went “from screen to stage.” In fact, it was a stage musical first.