Actor and filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell will star as Joe Exotic opposite McKinnon’s Baskin, Deadline reports. The show is based on Wondery’s podcast about the Exotic saga and will air on NBC, USA Network, and Peacock. Mitchell is perhaps best known for the beloved cult film Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which he both starred in and directed. More recently, he’s appeared in shows including Vinyl, Girls, The Good Fight, and Shrill.
Mitchell isn’t the first actor set to portray the larger-than-life character, as Nicolas Cage was tapped for the same role for Imagine Television Studios and CBS Television Studios’ own series.
“I’m thrilled to take on the role of this modern folk antihero,” said Mitchell of Joe Exotic, which is a working title. “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.”
The series will focus on Baskin, who was also one of the subjects of Netflix’s wildly popular Tiger King docuseries. The bitter feud between Baskin and Exotic will be at the core of the show, although it’s unclear if the story will explore the topic of her second husband Don Lewis, who has been missing since 1997. Exotic in real life has alleged that Baskin had Lewis killed, although she has denied such claims. Exotic, meanwhile, is in prison for attempting to pay a hitman to murder Baskin.
“It’s clear that an over-the-top character like Joe needed someone very special,” added Steven O’Neill, of UCP’s casting and talent development team. “We are so excited to have John Cameron Mitchell, an adored icon of the LGBTQ community, take on this compelling role. His casting speaks to our ongoing vision of universal storytelling, and we can’t wait for our audiences to experience the show.”
Mitchell has posted some suitably tiger-themed photos on IG lately: