The Tiger King is getting the Louis Theroux documentary treatment.
Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic, will be the subject of a new feature- length film from the BBC’s famed doc maker, who returns to America for the first time since 2019.
With the working title Louis Theroux: The Cult of Joe Exotic, the feature was commissioned by BBC Two and comes 10 years after Theroux first met Exotic whilst making his documentary America’s Most Dangerous Pets. Heading back to Oklahoma, Theroux will explore what has happened since, with the big cat man now residing in a federal prison, having been found guilty of a murder-for-hire plot and multiple animal cruelty charges. But rather than a pariah, Exotic is now a media phenomenon with a well-funded campaign team who were attempting to win him a presidential pardon. Meanwhile, Nicolas Cage is due to play Exotic in an upcoming CBS drama series picked up by Amazon.
“This is one of those quintessentially American stories, taking place in the heartland of Oklahoma, with a cast of characters almost too colourful and larger-than-life to be believed,” said Theroux. “I spent eight or nine days filming at the park back in 2011, over the course of three separate visits. I’d forgotten how much we shot until I went back into the footage during lockdown. It’s extraordinary how much was there. Since then the story just got stranger and bigger, and in going back at the end of last year I uncovered a real-life drama that took me in directions I never could have expected.”
Added Clare Sillery, the BBC’s head of commissioning, documentaries, history and religion: “In this follow-up to Louis’ revelatory first-look at the life of Joe Exotic in America’s Most Dangerous Pets, viewers will be taken even more deeply into the weird world of one of America’s most notorious figures. This feature-length special will be full to the brim with never-before-seen footage and brand new interviews with those on all sides of the Joe Exotic story.”