Fit for ‘Tiger King’: Our dream cast for Netflix’s outrageous Oklahoma saga

How about Billy Bob Thornton as the king himself, Joe Exotic?

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Joe Exotic on “Tiger King”


“Cause I saw tiger, now I understand, I saw tiger, and the tiger saw man.” – Lyrics from “I Saw a Tiger,” by Joe Exotic, who neither wrote nor actually performed “I Saw a Tiger.”

In these quarantined times when so many people feel caged, a Netflix limited documentary series about a rogue zookeeper who caged animals and wound up in a prison cage has captivated the nation.

Irony: meet irony.

As they say: you couldn’t make this up. Not since “Making a Murderer” have we seen such a compelling, dirt-class documentary featuring a colorful cast of real-life characters that would test the limits of the most imaginative screenwriter.

In the addictive, seven-part series officially titled, “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin chronicle an ongoing saga about one Joe Exotic, the fantastically flamboyant, fame-seeking owner of the Greater Wynnewood (Oklahoma) Exotic Animal Park, and his ongoing blood feud with his rival Carole Baskin, owner of “Big Cat Rescue.”

Along the way, we meet an astonishing cast of real-life characters, from the heavily tattooed, nearly toothless ex-husband of Joe Exotic, to the transgender zookeeper whose arm was bitten off by a tiger, to the polygamous owner-operator of a South Carolina-based zoo.


Kate McKinnon

Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Everyone is talking about the inevitable fictional adaptation of “Tiger King.” Kate McKinnon has signed on to play Carole Baskin in a limited series based on a podcast — but as a spokesperson for Netflix told me, the streaming service has nothing to do with that particular endeavor. 

In the meantime, these are my dream casting choices for a movie or series:

As Joe Exotic, Oklahoma-based big cat zoo owner, consummate showman and convicted murder-for-hire mastermind ...


Joe Exotic on “Tiger King.”


... Billy Bob Thornton


Billy Bob Thornton

John Lamparsk/Getty Images

As Joe’s elderly parents ... June Squibb and Bruce Dern

As John Reinke, double amputee and zookeeper ... John Hawkes

As John Finlay, Joe Exotic’s nearly toothless, heavily tattooed ex-husband ... Jackie Earle Haley

As Doc Antle, the Myrtle Beach-based polygamist exotic zookeeper ...


Doc Antle on “Tiger King.”


... Eric Dane


Eric Dane

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

As Kelci “Saff” Saffery, a Joe Exotic staffer who lost her arm to a tiger attack ... Asia Kate Dillon

As Travis Maldonado, one of Joe’s many husbands, who shot and killed himself ... Asa Butterfield

As Carole Baskin, Joe Exotic’s longtime rival and a suspected murderer of her first husband …


Carole Baskin on “Tiger King”


... Katy Mixon


Katy Mixon

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

As Howard Baskin, Carole’s second husband ... Jeff Goldblum

As Erik Cowie, another longtime zookeeper who worked for Joe Exotic ... Ben Foster

As Jeff Lowe, the playboy investor who took over Joe Exotic’s business ...


Jeff Lowe on “Tiger King”


... Scott Caan


Scott Caan

Rich Polk/Getty Images

As Lauren Lowe, Jeff’s wife who participated in their swinging lifestyle ... Bryce Dallas Howard

As James Garretson, the former Dallas strip club owner and fellow big-cat wildlife sanctuary owner turned federal informant against Joe Exotic ... Paul Walter Hauser

As Dillon Passage, Joe Exotic’s most recent husband ... Joe Keery

As Allen Glover, the handyman turned putative hitman ... Michael Chiklis

As Barbara Bala Fisher, an ex-wife of Doc Antle ... Michaela Watkins

And as Rick Kirkham, the reality TV producer who spent years filming Joe Exotic’s exploits



Rick Kirkham on “Tiger King”


... Scott Glenn


Scott Glenn

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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