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Here’s a First Look at John Cameron Mitchell As Tiger King Joe Exotic

Joe Exotic and John Cameron Mitchell

The Tiger King is here.

Page Six reported on the first set pictures of John Cameron Mitchell as Joe Exotic in Kate McKinnon’s upcoming series for Peacock about the gay, criminal, zoo owner, and we are stunned at his transformation.

When we first learned that Mitchell would be playing Exotic in the series, titled Joe Exotic, we were excited, but unsure how well the real-life character would be translated onto the screen. But all those worries were washed away as soon as we saw these pictures. Mitchell has nailed it.

The pictures we have show Mitchell in tight acid-washed jeans, cowboy boots, and of course, a mullet, passionately kissing another man with a mullet. We know that two of Exotic’s former partners, John Finlay (played by Sam Keely) and Travis Maldonado (played by Nat Wolff), will appear in the series, but this appears to be a third partner.

In the pics, he’s being dipped, picked up, and caressed, tapping into the bratty energy that Exotic is absolutely full of. Mitchell really was the perfect casting for this role. (Could an Emmy be in his future?)

When Mitchell was cast, he told Page Six that he "understands" Joe Exotic. "I grew up in a lot of the places he lived in, so I kind of know something about him. We’re the exact same age within six weeks," he said.

"When you grow up queer in that environment, you hate yourself because everybody hated you," he continued. "And his way of dealing with it was to imitate his oppressor. Get a gun and say, 'I’m more of a f–king a–hole than you are. I’ve got my hand in a tiger’s mouth. My other hand around my three boyfriends.' So in some way, you do admire this kind of pathetic desire to outdo his oppressor."

Joe Exotic, the show, was first announced last year, when TV Line and Deadline reported that McKinnon would be starring as Carole Baskin and also producing the show based on the podcast Joe Exotic: Tiger King from Wondery. The world was introduced to Exotic through the Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.

Since then, the cast has filled out, with Mitchell joining as the title character. Other cast members include nonbinary actor Lex Mayson as zoo staff member Saff, William Fichtner as Rick Kirkham, Dean Winters as Jeff Lowe, Kyle MacLachlan as Howard Baskin, and Brian Van Holt as John Reinke.

The series is currently being filmed and no release date has been announced.

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