The stage and screen star is set to play the legendary Tiger King himself, Joe Exotic, in an upcoming limited series of the same name, which will roll out across NBCU’s scripted entertainment platforms, NBC, Peacock and USA.
"It's a thrill," Mitchell told ET's Lauren Zima of taking on the role, "because Joe is the exact same age as me and lived in a lot of the same areas I lived in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas. "
"So I kinda know a little bit about him, and I know about the kind of gay guy who, like, probably got picked on in middle school, but then was like, 'F**k you, I'm gonna be more of a f**king redneck than you are! I'm gonna take your goddamn male oppressor to the limit of the natural conclusion -- as a murderer!"
"It's crazy, but what a role you can sink your tiger teeth into," he added of the part, in which he'll play opposite Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon as Exotic's nemesis, Carole Baskin. "It's just delicious."
While Mitchell says he doesn't expect to speak to the currently imprisoned real-life Tiger King before playing Exotic in the series, he has been listening to interviews and the podcast it's based on, Wondery's Joe Exotic: Tiger King, hosted and reported by Robert Moor. "They're not going for just schtick," he said of the show's creative team, "they're going for the real people."
"Our adaptation is gonna be much more personal," Mitchell added. "You really get to see them in their lives, with their lovers, so you get more of the emotional, human side as well as the absurd, you know, American insanity that they represent."
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Joe Exotic Speaks Out From Prison and Reacts to Carole Baskin’s Offer to Help Him (Exclusive)
For the longtime theater star, playwright and director, the larger-than-life role of Joe Exotic is the third in a series of "terrible, terrible examples of gay men" he's played recently, following alt-right provocateur Felix Staples on The Good Fight, and Aidy Bryant's bitchy boss, Gabe, on Shrill. "[They're] kind of villains, but charming ones," he noted. "I love it."
Shrill debuted its third and final season on Friday, and Mitchell said that spending three seasons tormenting Bryant's character, Annie, and the rest of the writers at The Weekly Thorn allowed him to "access a nasty side of myself, a maniac side -- the guy who says, 'Question authority, but do exactly what I say.'"
"He's just so inconsistent and obnoxious," he noted. "I really enjoyed playing him."
But while the fictional work environment could be tense and toxic, Mitchell said the on-set vibe of Shrill was anything but. "Aidy is just pure goodness with a mischievous underside," he noted of the series' writer and star. "She can do a scene with you, stop in the middle of it, give you direction and you don't even know that it's happening, she's so easygoing about it... She was always interested in my point of view."
He also appreciated that the diversity of the Shrill cast was "part of the actual philosophy of the stories," and allowed him to play an uptight character like Gabe, without it being representative.
"Shrill was about outsiders fitting into the mainstream, and I could play the gay, evil boss 'cause we had enough gay characters that it didn't feel [stereotypically] evil," he noted. "We could be good, we could be whatever. Any kind of ethnicity, gender -- to me, this is the world we live in anyway. Why shouldn't we see it on the show?"
While Bryant shared with ET that the Hulu comedy's third season is their "juiciest yet," and provides fans with a "satisfying ending," Mitchell had a different perspective on the final episodes: "I would say it's a very interesting story of a gay man reaching the pinnacle of his middle age, and there's all these other characters around him who I can't remember their names," he joked.
However, he did share one amazing real tidbit for fans that's almost too good to be true itself: "I got to improvise a punk rock song with Fred Armisen on drums!"
Shrill's third and final season is streaming now on Hulu.