David Spade Shares His Thoughts on Playing Joe Exotic in a ‘Tiger King’ Adaptation

Taking a walk on the wild side? David Spade shared his thoughts on the possibility of playing Joe Exotic (real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage) in an upcoming Tiger King adaptation.

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During a virtual interview for The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Thursday, April 9, Spade discussed Maldonado-Passage, 57, personally requesting for the Grown Ups star or Brad Pitt to play him in a biopic. “I thought it’s just a funny idea because … it’s more fun to think of who the casting would be,” the 55-year-old actor said in response.

“Joe Exotic said me or Brad Pitt and I think I know which way it’s gonna head. I see Brad at auditions all the time and it’s always tense,” Spade shared, before joking, “… You know what Brad does? He brings his Oscar to auditions now, which I don’t think you’re allowed to do that in SAG.”

David Spade Shares His Thoughts on Playing Joe Exotic Ellen DeGeneres Show
David Spade and Ellen DeGeneres YouTube

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Spade noted that the film would need to be “more dramatic” to get everything right. The Benchwarmers actor suggested that Woody Harrelson would make a good Jeff Lowe, but he also explained why Pitt, 56, wouldn’t be right for the docuseries’ central character. “I think Joe is a little too squirrelly for Brad. That might be wishful thinking, Brad is so studly and I’m a little more squirrelly,” he added.

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness premiered on Netflix on March 20. The seven-part true-crime docuseries follows Maldonado-Passage as he gets entangled in a murder-for-hire plot through his involvement in the underground world of big cat breeding.

Rebecca Chaiklin, who co-directed the docuseries for Netflix with Eric Goode, told The Hollywood Reporter on April 1 that Maldonado-Passage “would like Brad Pitt or David Spade to play him.” Chaiklin added, “He doesn’t refer to David Spade as David Spade — he refers to him as ‘Joe Dirt,’” referencing the Saturday Night Live alum’s 2001 flick of the same name.

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David Spade Shares His Thoughts on Playing Joe Exotic
David Spade and Joe Exotic Shutterstock; NetFlix

Spade, however, has a lot of competition for the part of Maldonado-Passage if he chooses to try and pursue it. Late last month, Dax Shepard expressed his interest in starring as the former zookeeper in a biopic.

“If I don’t get cast as Joe Exotic in the eventual biopic, Hollywood is broken,” Shepard, 45, tweeted on March 25. The Parenthood alum then shared a tweet from a fan who Photoshopped Shepard’s face onto Maldonado-Passage’s. In response to the fan-created image, the “Armchair Expert” podcast host declared this to be “a great first step.”

Tiger King is now streaming on Netflix.

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