It was announced this week that Nicolas Cage is set to play Tiger King’s Joe Exotic in a scripted eight-episode limited series. Cage will apparently serve as executive producer as well. Keep in mind, this is just an announcement and things can change in Hollywood on a dime. For instance, Leonardo Di Caprio was allegedly poised to play the part of Wall Street murderer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho before the part went to the very capable Christian Bale. Likewise, Sons of Anarchy hunk Charlie Hunnam was originally tapped to play the suave billionaire and sexy beast Christian Grey in 50 Shades of Grey, until he got cold feet and slipped out the back, Jack. 

Regardless, how delicious would it be to have the ultimate scene-chewing manimal Nic Cage playing the … ultimate scene-chewing manimal Joe Exotic! If Joe Exotic is anything, he is a very committed caricature of himself. Cannot the same be said of Nicolas Cage? Indeed, Nic Cage engenders a wide variety of opinions in regards to his acting ability—or lack thereof. For instance, after one Los Angeles actor witnessed good ole Saint Nic’s infamous alphabet scene in the equally infamous plasma comedy Vampire’s Kiss he said, “I don’t even know what I’m watching! Is he brilliant or an absolute buffoon? I really couldn’t tell you!” 

Isn’t that the whole point of a Nicolas Cage performance? To leave one questioning one’s own mind? To befuddle the senses in a phantasmagoria of histrionic madness?

It’s not a surprise some fans seem worried Nic will get in full-on ham-it-up-scene-stealing-overacting-too-crazy-to-be-believable beast mode. To which the answer could very well be: What on earth could be wrong with that? For isn’t Joe Exotic himself the epitome of hyperbolic-indulgent-lay-it-on-thick-and-heavy-melodramatic-comedic dramaturgy in the flesh? In fact, old Joe is a character so over the top he would risk his very fortune and livelihood for fame and acclaim. Hasn’t Cage already done that with his own career? 

Concerning the provocative casting choice, internet comments range from “This is the greatest casting of all time!” to “Awful casting, if it’s true,” to “No one but Joe Dirt should play the part of Joe Exotic!”

It’s important to note that Nicolas Cage is an Academy-award winning actor. He won the Oscar in1996 for his gut-wrenching portrayal of relentless alcoholic and Hollywood screenwriter Ben Sanderson. And in 2002, he was nominated for the dual role of Charlie and Donald Kaufman in Adaptation, but ultimately lost out to Denzel in Training Day; no shame in that. The point is, the guy can act. 

But for those weaned on his lesser-known projects and B-movie gems like A Score to Settle, Port of Call, and Dog Eat Dog, it might be hard to fathom his Oscar-level talent. But just think of Nic’s performances in unforgettable films like Raising Arizona, Moonstruck, Red Rock West, Wild at Heart, Racing with the Moon, and Bringing Out the Dead. Is an actor with those credentials unfit to portray a goofball like Joe Exotic?

Besides, the similarities here are astounding. Joe Exotic made a fortune off his outlandish persona and theatrical bravura. He lost that fortune due to his self-centered and erratic behavior and out-of-control ego. To boot, he blamed everyone around him for his financial and legal woes. Sound like anyone we know? Indeed, one of Cage’s goals is to star in at least 150 films; he used to collect exotic pets including king cobras and an octopus; he blew his fortune on outrageous purchases such as castles and a Tyranosaurus rex skeleton; and we know for a dead fact, Cage can rock a serious mullet; just check out Con Air!

There have been a number of names bandied about to portray the Netflix superstar Joe Exotic, including Brad Pitt, Jared Leto, Matthew McConaughey, and Danny McBride, but Nicolas Cage landed the plum role. Did the producers get it right? You make the call!

 

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