Casting 'Tiger King': Who Should Join Kate McKinnon in a Limited Series Adaptation?
By Stacy Lambe
Netflix / Getty Images
There’s no denying that the Netflix docuseries, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, is a hit. Since premiering on March 27, the unbelievably true tale about a gay polygamist roadside zoo owner and big cat breeder named Joe Exotic and his nemisis, animal activist and Big Cat Rescue sanctuary owner Carole Baskin, has gone viral.
Now, Kate McKinnon is confirmed to star as Baskin in a limited TV series adapted from the Wondery podcast, Over My Dead Body Season 2: Joe Exotic, which also explores Exotic’s fierce love for big cats, his escalating antics and his intense battle with Baskin, who attempted to put him out of business before she was the target of a murder-for-hire plot.
But who should join her in the ensemble cast of colorful personalities that are on either side of the big cat battle lines carved out by Exotic and Baskin? Dax Shepardhas volunteered to play the Tiger King himself, while Edward Norton thinks he would be better suited to portray one of his three husbands, Travis Maldonado. However, ET has rounded up a few more ideas for consideration.
Um, step aside, pal. You’re way too young and buff and you know it. You could probably pull off Maldonado still, actually. Wouldn’t that be fun?
While McKinnon beat everyone to the punch by grabbing the rights to this story back in 2019, that doesn’t mean people don’t have a few other suggestions for who should portray the female wild animal rescuer accused of feeding her missing husband to a tiger. If we take the funny route, Carol Kane or Jane Krakowski both fit the bill. Then there’s Annette Bening, who is still owed a part after originally being cast in American Crime Story: Katrina before it was put on indefinite hold.
Of course, no show is complete without the perfect actor to play Exotic, a gay polygamist roadside zoo owner who dabbles in country music and politics in addition to wanting to kill Baskin. While we appreciate Shepard volunteering for the part, Norton wouldn’t be a bad choice, nor would Jim Parsons, Matthew McConaughey, Michael Keaton or Walton Goggins. If the tone takes on a Christopher Guest-type film, then David Spade, Will Arnett or Will Forte might do the trick. If we really wanted to get wild, then maybe Diplo, who shares an uncanny resemblance to Exotic and has some musical chops of his own.
After Exotic’s financial situation spirals out of control, he enlists the help of Lowe, a showy con man from Las Vegas with seemingly lots of money and desire to transform Exotic’s rundown zoo into a popular attraction. First, there’s Fred Durst, which sounds wrong until you think about it for a minute. But at the top of our list is Vince Vaughn, thanks to his Swingers past, and Woody Harrelson. (And you can’t do this show without one role played by Harrelson.)
Described as a tiger whisperer, Antle is the founder and director of The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.), a South Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, wildlife preservation. According to a former employee, he also has a cult-like hold over his female workers. And at the top of our list is Tim Robbins, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Antle, as does Penn from Penn & Teller. But maybe the right fit is Will Ferrell, who can deliver some serious deadpan.
Baskin’s Extended Family
First there’s Baskin’s current husband, Howard, whose long face makes him harder to cast, but we like the idea of Donald Sutherland. But then there’s her missing husband -- who we won’t get into here -- and his ex-wife, Gladys Lewis, and his former assistant, Anne McQueen, who have publicly accused Baskin of being responsible for his disappearance. Jean Smart, who has made a welcome comeback with roles on Fargo, Legion and Watchmen, seems perfect for Lewis, while Amy Sedaris (in prosthetics) could really have fun as McQueen.
Exotic’s Various Employees
While people came to Exotic’s Oklahoma zoo for his collection of big cats and exotic animals, the people running the place were just as wild. There was his presidential campaign manager, Joshua Dial, whom he met at a Walmart gun counter; two longtime workers Jeff Reinke and Erik Crowie as well as Kelci Saffery, who lost part of her arm while feeding a tiger and still was loyal to Exotic; and reality TV producer Rick Kirkham. While Kirkham looks like he walked off the set of Jurassic Park -- R.I.P. Pete Postlethwaite -- we think someone like J.K. Simmons or Ed Harris could take on the role here. (Plus, Harris already has that black hat.) As for Dial, it’s a toss-up between Josh Gad and Richard Jewell’s Paul Walter Hauser. If we went back in time and Aaron Eckhart kept his beard from Erin Brockovich, then he would be a splitting image of Crowie, while someone as random as Neil Patrick Harris just might be the unexpected casting that would work for the unexpectedly charming Reinke. Saffery is harder to cast but we could imagine the likes of Keisha Castle-Hughes or Orange Is the New Black breakout Daniella De Jesus portraying her.
Lowe’s Cohort of Criminals
When Lowe takes over the zoo, he brings in two keep people: strip club owner James Garretson, as another financial contributor, and Allen Glover, who takes over for Crowie as one of the lead animal caretakers. Both have distinct looks and personalities that require great character actors, like Stephen Root or Bill Camp, who could bring some gravitas to Garretson, who later becomes an informant for the FBI, and Terry O’Quinn, who just screams Glover.
Exotic’s Three Husbands
Consider these roles the merry band of up-and-comers or choice cameo roles tasked with falling for Exotic as one of his various husbands seen throughout the docuseries. Jake Weary fits the bill for John Finlay, while Adam Driver, Joe Jonas or Tyler Posey could play Travis Maldonado. As for the last of them -- Dillon Passage -- he could be portrayed by American Crime’s Connor Jessup or one of the Sprouse twins. We’ll take either Cole or Dylan. If the show had time, Frances Conroy or Kathy Bates could make a cameo as Maldonado’s mother, Cheryl.
Prosecutor Amanda Green
Coming in for a great trial scene has to be someone that can look the part and not trip over the legal jargon or dramatic exposition required to explain all the charges against Exotic. Charlize Theron would be so much fun, and thanks to her recent bowl cut, it's really hard NOT to see. But The Outsider star Julianne Nicholson seems like the perfect person to play Green.