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Louis Theroux to make documentary on the ‘cult’ of Joe Exotic

Louis Theroux (Matt Crossick/PA)
Louis Theroux (Matt Crossick/PA)

Louis Theroux will revisit the subject of self-proclaimed “Tiger King” Joe Exotic in a new documentary.

Theroux met Exotic 10 years ago, while making the BBC film America’s Most Dangerous Pets.

The zoo owner, real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, later became the subject of a Netflix documentary and is now in prison, for his conviction on charges that he participated in a murder-for-hire plot and violated federal wildlife laws.

Now BBC Two has announced a new Louis Theroux feature-length special.

Theroux “sets out to understand who the real Joe Exotic is” in the documentary.

Louis Theroux will be making a film about Joe Exotic (BBC)

“He meets old friends from his original documentary, the team trying to get him out of prison and those closest to Joe who have never spoken before,” the BBC said.

Theroux said: “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.

“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.”

Clare Sillery, head of commissioning, documentaries, history and religion at the BBC, said: “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.”

The documentary has the working title Louis Theroux: The Cult of Joe Exotic.

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