Kate McKinnon's Tiger King drama will air on NBC, Peacock, and USA—we cast the supporting roles

Clockwise from upper left: Joe Exotic and John Finlay (Screenshot: Tiger King/Netflix); Charlie  Hunnam (Photo: Thos Robinson/Getty); Jeff Lowe (Screenshot: Tiger King/Netflix); Walton Goggins (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty); Ansel Elgort (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty); Travis Maldonado and Joe Exotic (Screenshot: Tiger King/Netflix); Will Farrell (Photo: Leopoldo Smith/Getty); Doc Antle (Screenshot: Tiger King/(Netflix)
Clockwise from upper left: Joe Exotic and John Finlay (Screenshot: Tiger King/Netflix); Charlie Hunnam (Photo: Thos Robinson/Getty); Jeff Lowe (Screenshot: Tiger King/Netflix); Walton Goggins (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty); Ansel Elgort (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty); Travis Maldonado and Joe Exotic (Screenshot: Tiger King/Netflix); Will Farrell (Photo: Leopoldo Smith/Getty); Doc Antle (Screenshot: Tiger King/(Netflix)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

According to Variety, a limited series titled Joe Exoticbased on the second season of Wondery’s Over My Dead Body podcast and starring executive producer Kate McKinnonis now set to air on NBC, Peacock, and USA Network. Since the documentary version of that tale took over Netflix earlier this year, interest in casting the fictional versions of Tiger King’s key characters has reached a fever pitch. McKinnon is already slated to play Big Cat Rescue owner Carole Baskin (we can’t wait for her to say, “Hello, all you cool cats and kittens”), and actors like Dax Shepard and Edward Norton are on Twitter making the case that they should play the plum role of Joe Exotic himself. And in April, Rob Lowe announced that he and Ryan Murphy are creating their own version of the “insane” story.

But what about all those minor characters, like Joe Exotic’s various spouses, and Baskin’s current husband, who looks a lot like her missing second husband? We humbly offer our lower-level Tiger King casting suggestions.

This story was first published in April when news broke that McKinnon’s limited series was in the works.

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“Doc” Antle—Will Ferrell

“Doc” Antle—Will Ferrell

Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (Leopoldo Smith/Getty)
Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (Leopoldo Smith/Getty)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

Every time the over-the-top persona of “Doc” Bhagavan Antle offered one of his opinions as a talking head on Tiger King, we couldn’t help but picture Will Ferrell’s eventual domination of the role. Who else but Ferrell would be able to deliver lines like “Nothing is cooler, sexier, and more significant to the world we live in today than a tiger” with the appropriate bananas gravitas? Can’t you just see him striding into an event on the massive grounds of Doc’s “interactive animal facility” atop an elephant? There’s also Doc’s cultlike domination of the young women who work(ed) for him; we think the guy who’s already portrayed larger-than-life figures like Mugatu, Ricky Bobby, and Ron Burgundy could pull that off with aplomb. [Gwen Ihnat]

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John Finlay—Charlie Hunnam

John Finlay—Charlie Hunnam

Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (Thos Robinson/Getty)
Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (Thos Robinson/Getty)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

At 39 years old, Charlie Hunnam may be significantly older than John Finlay was when he entered a throuple marriage with Joe Exotic and Travis Maldonado, but the former Sons Of Anarchy star has aged well and has the pedigree necessary to take on the part, after playing what he has called his “trilogy of mad men” in Cold Mountain, Green Street, and Children Of Men, before landing on FX’s biker drama. Finlay had his role to play in Joe Exotic’s circus, but we can only hope a well-crafted limited series would allow for an episode to explore Finlay’s life after Joe: becoming a father then finding happiness with his current wife. [Patrick Gomez]

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Travis Maldonado—Ansel Elgort

Travis Maldonado—Ansel Elgort

Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (Ethan Miller/Getty)
Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (Ethan Miller/Getty)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

Within Tiger King’s landscape of terrible people, Travis was a victim, a guy who got tangled up with Joe Exotic when he was just a teenager, then was basically imprisoned on the private zoo compound while his spouse ran for governor and hired a contract killer to dispose of his enemy. Travis got increasingly depressed, and his dangerous, self-destructive behavior results in one of Tiger King’s most harrowing moments. We think Ansel Elgort could pull this role off: He’s within the right age range, and can depict the same kind of troubled persona (as seen in The Fault In Our Stars and Baby Driver) to give Travis his proper due onscreen. [Gwen Ihnat]

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Dillon Passage—Chris Wood

Dillon Passage—Chris Wood

Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (Miquel Benitez/Getty)
Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (Miquel Benitez/Getty)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

Amid all the shady characters of Tiger King is the surprisingly sweet and innocent Dillon Passage. Unlike Joe Exotic’s other two husbands we meet on the series, husband number five seems to genuinely care for his partner without the promise of drugs or big cats. Just 24 years old, Passage has remained with Joe while the latter serves out his 22-year prison sentence after being sentenced in January on multiple charges, including an alleged murder-for-hire plot against Carole Baskin. Chris Wood has played his share of murderers and sociopaths (Major Crimes, The Vampire Diaries) and sturdy cops and superheroes (Containment, Supergirl). But he can also pull off sweet and loving (The Carrie Diaries, Mercy Street). We don’t get much of Passage in Tiger King, but Wood has what it takes to provide a wealth of backstory, even if we don’t see much of his character until Tiger King’s final chapters. [Patrick Gomez]

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Howard Baskin—James Cromwell

Howard Baskin—James Cromwell

Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (Chris Weeks/Getty)
Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (Chris Weeks/Getty)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

James Cromwell seems like a shoe-in for the role of Carole Baskin’s third husband, Howard, her fellow activist and fuzzy tiger dress-up partner at animal rights galas. The resemblance is uncanny, and we can’t wait to see the Babe/L.A. Confidential star with Kate McKinnon strolling the paths of the Big Cat Rescue. But speaking of another uncanny resemblance: Doesn’t Howard also look a lot like Carole’s missing second husband, Jack Don Lewis? Hear us out: Cast Cromwell as Howard and use a slightly doctored version of him to also play Don in flashbacks. [Gwen Ihnat]

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Jeff Lowe—Walton Goggins

Jeff Lowe—Walton Goggins

Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (Kevin Winter/Getty)
Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (Kevin Winter/Getty)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

No, Walton Goggins doesn’t look anything like Jeff Lowe, the graying conman/misogynist who dresses like a twentysomething BMX rider circa 2003. But, as the actor has demonstrated in Justified and The Hateful Eight, he’s capable of embodying a menace that’s as dangerous as it is pathetic. Goggins’ appeal is his amiability, the way his broad grin sparkles before it twists into a snarl; that casual charm is key to understanding why Joe Exotic was so smitten with him. Also, if we’re being honest, we just really want to see Goggins rocking that bandana/aviators/Oakley hat combo. [Randall Colburn]

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Lauren Lowe—AnnaSophia Robb

Lauren Lowe—AnnaSophia Robb

Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (Michael Loccisano/Getty)
Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (Michael Loccisano/Getty)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

We don’t get much of Jeff Lowe’s wife, Lauren, in Tiger King, so there is a long list of actresses who could be considered for the role. But why not give it to the underappreciated AnnaSophia Robb? Not even 10 when she landed her first starring roles in movies like Because Of Winn-Dixie and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Robb has amassed quite the résumé, balancing light and frothy fare like The Carrie Diaries with impressive dramatic work on Mercy Street, The Act, and Little Fires Everywhere. There’s a quiet strength behind Robb’s bubbly exterior that could break hearts when you see Jeff Lowe push her into a gym immediately after giving birth. This choice may have also been made to reunite Chris Wood and Robb on another project. [Patrick Gomez]

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Joshua Dial—Josh Gad

Joshua Dial—Josh Gad

Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (David Livingston/Getty)
Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (David Livingston/Getty)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

The key to capturing the essence of Wal-Mart associate-turned-campaign manager Joshua Dial is to effectively strike a balance between sound logic and confounding loyalty to illogical figures. Since his days on the stage in the Tony-winning Book Of Mormon, Josh Gad has shown a knack for tapping into the kind of wide-eyed sincerity that can earn an audience’s trust. We’d wager that he’d have enough sympathy for the smart guy with big dreams to gift him a respectful portrayal, and it would be fun to watch Gad’s Dial talk serious shit about Jeff Lowe. [Shannon Miller]

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James Garretson—Cameron Britton

James Garretson—Cameron Britton

Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); Mindhunter (Screenshot: Netflix)
Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); Mindhunter (Screenshot: Netflix)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

Casting James Garretson can be tricky. You want an actor who can really disappear into a character—not someone who you’d have to cover in prosthetics, or who you’d always be laughing at a little when they pop on screen. That’s why we think Cameron Britton’s the man for the job. He owned the role of Richard Jewell in Manhunt: Deadly Games, and got an Emmy nod for his work on Mindhunter. Britton can embody whoever he’s playing and bring levity to a role that could so easily be cast as a punchline. [Marah Eakin]

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Erik Cowie—Ryan Stiles

Erik Cowie—Ryan Stiles

Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (Jason Kirk/Getty)
Tiger King (Screenshot: Netflix); (Jason Kirk/Getty)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

Imagine comedian and Whose Line Is It Anyway? vet Ryan Stiles in a silky blond wig, filling up gas canisters with a lit cigarette hanging precariously between his lips. If that isn’t enough to convince you that he would absolutely nail the role of Erik Cowie, the straight-shooting head zookeeper who genuinely cared for the animals, then what will it take? [Shannon Miller]

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