“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.
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 ...
... Billy Bob Thornton
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 ...
... Eric Dane
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 …
... Katy Mixon
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 ...
... Scott Caan
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
... Scott Glenn