At a time of the year when fans and punters are more accustomed to following the fortunes of sports’ big cats – the AFL’s Richmond Tigers, NRL’s Wests Tigers and MLB’s Detroit Tigers – a big cat–themed docuseries has instead dominated our TV screens and devices during the coronavirus sporting blackout.
Netflix, the saviour of lockdown boredom, released Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness on 20 March, to almost-immediate juggernaut status. The eponymous protagonist, ‘Tiger King’ Joe Exotic, has gone from a big cat–loving oddball and convicted felon to one of the most recognisable people on the planet – but who will play him in the seemingly inevitable big-screen adaptation?
From stream sensation to big-screen blockbuster?
Tiger King charts Joseph Maldonado-Passage’s odyssey from troubled big cat enthusiast to Joe Exotic, a gun-toting, polygamist, egomaniac, exotic-animal-park owner – the self-styled ‘Tiger King’.
Each episode is more bizarre than the last, with fame-hungry Joe Exotic becoming embroiled in an all-consuming feud with animal rescuer and zoo owner Carole Baskin (one of many zany characters that add to Tiger King’s irresistible appeal), running for Governor of Oklahoma, fleeing the park following a dispute with a business partner, and landing in jail after being found guilty of putting a hit out on Baskin.
It’s stranger than fiction – and a movie based on Tiger King is apparently in the works. The Sun reported on 12 April that 20th Century Studios are in the planning stage to portray Joe Exotic in all his moustachioed, peroxide-mulleted glory.
A wide range of mega-famous candidates have been spruiked for the lead role – and Sportbet’s Tiger King betting odds paint a fascinating picture.
Joe Dirt to Joe Exotic: Spade raging favourite for Tiger King Movie role
At the time of writing, comedy veteran David Spade was the $2.75 favourite to play the 57-year-old Joe Exotic in any potential movie.
The physical similarities are obvious – particularly if we cast our minds back to 2001, when Spade was the ‘white trash’ lead character in Joe Dirt, a role he reprised in a 2015 sequel. Speaking from prison, Joe Exotic himself reportedly gave his stamp of approval to the casting of Spade – or, somewhat less modestly, superhunk Brad Pitt, who is on the sixth line of Joe Exotic betting at $8.
Spade admitted he is obsessed with Tiger King, but has downplayed his chances of being cast if he has to audition alongside some of Hollywood’s headliners. And while Joe Exotic is about as cartoonish as a human being could be, the serious subject matter and tone may be too much of a departure from Spade’s usual comedy schtick.
Joe Exotic Wants David Spade To Play Him In The Upcoming "Tiger King" Dramatic Series – But David Isn't Convinced https://t.co/FzJowme2yW
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) April 3, 2020
Meanwhile, The Sun also claimed 20th Century Studios had earmarked another heart-throb for the role in Orlando Bloom.
Bacon puts hand up to play Joe Exotic
If the movie’s producers opt for a lower-profile but more realistic Joe Exotic, they could do worse than casting Chris Elliott.
Best known for his appearances in There’s Something About Mary and Scary Movie 2, as well as recurring TV roles as Lily’s father in How I Met Your Mother and Roland Schitt in Schitt’s Creek, Elliott has been backed into $5. Elliott could no doubt pull off the redneck element required, but he suffers the same drawback as Spade: being pigeonholed as a comedy specialist.
— Jordan (@TVTalkWithJWalk) March 26, 2020
Oscar-nominated duo Billy Bob Thornton and Edward Norton are no strangers to serious films and comedies. Both are acting chameleons who would pull off Joe Exotic with aplomb – and the pair are on the third line of betting at $6. Incidentally, hapless reality show producer Rick Kirkham, who featured prominently in the Netflix series, named Thornton when pressed on who should play him in a movie.
Kevin Bacon has thrown his hat into the Tiger King tips ring – emerging as a $7 smoky – after telling NBC News he would take the role ‘in a second’. After getting his big break in Footloose in the early 1980s, Bacon has developed into one of Hollywood’s most prominent character actors and would relish the challenge of becoming Joe Exotic.
‘This is my type of guy,’ Bacon said.
Kevin Bacon Says He’d Play Tiger King’s Joe Exotic ‘In a Second’: He's 'My Type of Guy' https://t.co/TvpjdKPjBb
— People (@people) April 29, 2020
The eclectic list of outside chances to play Joe Exotic include Christian Bale ($16), Leonardo DiCaprio ($16), Johnny Depp ($21), Ryan Gosling ($34), Adam Sandler ($41) and Mark Wahlberg ($41). James Franco boasts the range – from stoner comedy romps to a string of based-on-a-true-story roles – to suggest he is outstanding value at $34 (at the time of writing) to snare the Joe Exotic part.
A handful of Australia’s finest have also been framed up in the Tiger King movie market. Hugh Jackman ($21) and Chris Hemsworth ($26) lead the Aussie charge, while Russell Crowe and Margot Robbie – both on the last line of betting at $51 – are also in the mix.
'Tiger King' Podcast Host Wants Margot Robbie to Play Joe Exotic https://t.co/m3eFoMPFcF
— Harper's Bazaar (@harpersbazaarus) March 31, 2020
Whether a Tiger King movie comes to fruition remains to be seen. But if it does get the green light, it’s sure to be compulsory viewing, whether we’re allowed back in theatres by then or not. An announcement about who will play Joe Exotic will be the earth-shattering Tinseltown news of 2020 – and a novelty market punters want to be a part of.
Sportsbet has Tiger King movie cast betting options and Joe Exotic odds available. Bet now.