The battle of the competing Tiger Kings just got a little more interesting, as Deadline reports that NBCU has cast John Cameron Mitchell as Joe Exotic for its forthcoming adaptation of the hit Netflix docuseries. Amazon also has an adaptation in development with Nicolas Cage set to play Joe Schreibvogel, aka Joe Exotic, the controversial owner of an Oklahoma zoo who becomes embroiled in a series of lawsuits with Carole Baskin, the eccentric owner of a big cat rescue (who may or may not have had something to do with the disappearance of her wealthy husband). Playing the kooky Carole Baskin to Mitchell’s Joe Exotic in the NBCU adaptation is SNL’s Kate McKinnon. The series will premiere across the company’s networks, including Peacock and USA.
Amazon’s casting is sort of a chaotic good move—Cage is obviously an entertaining choice, and the material gives him a lot to chew on (along with a wacky hair piece, which he’ll love). But NBCU’s casting of Mitchell—best known as the writer, director, and star of Hedwig And The Angry Inch—is actually the more compelling choice, partially because mainstream audiences aren’t as familiar with his work. In an official statement, Mitchell said he’s “thrilled to take on the role of this modern folk antihero,” adding, “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 casting marks Mitchell’s biggest TV role to date; he’s also appeared on The Good Fight, and stars opposite Aidy Bryant on Hulu’s Shrill, which returns for its third and final season on May 7.