New York.- When you set out to investigate the world of the breeders of exotic animals, Eric Goode had no idea that it would end up making the hit series of Netflix Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.
Launched just two weeks ago, the series is already a global sensation, as it immerses the audience in the lives and rivalries of colorful characters as Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, the owner of a game reserve and a safari in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Carole Baskin, an activist of animals and owner of a sanctuary near Tampa, Florida, and whose former husband, Don Lewis, disappeared mysteriously in 1997.
But the protagonist is the “King Tiger”, Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic, a flamboyant caretaker of a zoo of Oklahoma, political candidate, country singer and aspiring celebrity who was sentenced in January to 22 years in prison for his participation in a plot failed to kill Baskin and five cubs of tiger.
Goode, who led the Tiger King next to Rebecca Chaiklin, says that he knew that the series would be successful.
“How can’t you be fascinated with the polygamy, the drugs, the cults, the tigers and a possible murder? I had all the ingredients that one finds attractive in a real story.
“We knew that there would be appetite for that,” says the filmmaker in an interview Tuesday.
What I never thought is that the series would come during the pandemic of the Covid-19, during which the public has had sufficient time to study this extravagant story while they take refuge in their homes.
Goode, who is also the founder of the Turtle Conservancy, a conservation organization non-profit, spoke about the creation of the Tiger King, the conflicts that surround its protagonists and their talks with Joe Exotic since the debut of the series.
What made you delve into this project?
Since childhood, I always enjoyed the outdoor activities and the wild life. Kept some turtles and a snake in my apartment in New York. And I have always been fascinated by the people who walk at a pace that they themselves impose.
“Each one of them, either, “Doc” Antle, Joe Exotic or Carole Baskin, all created their own worlds of worship, which are often very creative and inspiring, but also they can become quite dark”.
Why do you felt that there was a lot of what to say about Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin?
Originally I set out to do a project that was a combination of Best in Show, Grizzly Man and Blackfish. And it was equally important for me to delve into the pathology of these characters, as it was to expose the horrible practices of exploitation of animals.
Have you made it difficult to get the participation of some of the characters?
I was able to do that the people with the time passed, it felt comfortable, because I spoke their language.
“Joe was not difficult, as you can see in the series. He is an open book and his narcissism and his ego to exceed it. Carole was also not difficult. Some of the other characters were pretty difficult.”
Why do you think that the big cats are so attractive to people?
There is a fascination in general with exotic animals, something that is dangerous and beautiful. Has a lot to do with the ego and say: “Look at me, I’m a tiger”, which is similar to “Look at me, I have a Ferrari”.
“And definitely are used as bait for sex: in the case of Joe, to attract young men, and in the case of ‘Doc’, young women.”
Do you think that some characters were handled as if take a leading role in a cult?
There are many brainwashing, whether intentional or not. The people fantasizes about working with animals, and then they begin to do so, they begin to believe that they are indispensable and that the animal loves you.
“Most of these people came to these places when they were very young, teenagers of 20 years. Working seven days a week, not paid virtually nothing, and can never visit their families.
“These places have a lot of power over people who are indoctrinated”.
How much time you invested in the filming of the series?
I spent five years filming people in the united States, and has increased in the last two years, where I really felt that I was on a plane every week because the story was developing at the same time.
Have you talked to Joe lately? What do you think of the fame of the series?
Joe is ecstatic. Called from time to time, from the jail.
“It was transferred to a federal penitentiary in Fort Worth. I lost communication with him, because I think that had to go into quarantine due to the coronavirus, but until three days ago, communicated with us.
“And is enjoying his 15 minutes of fame”.
What do you think of the criticism that say that you aprovechaste of these people?
We strive to be honest and fair with all of the themes of the series. Some characters are larger than life itself, but all they told me their truth and that was what came out in the series.
“For example, Mario Tabraue (a narco convicted that deals with animals) I was really happy with the result. He knew that he had a past that people want to hear.
“In the case of Carole Baskin, I felt that we had the responsibility to investigate, to some extent, her husband disappeared. If you ask Joe, he will tell you that it was not felt exploited. This is how Joe lived his life.”
Do you have any theory of what happened to Mr. Lewis?
I prefer not to share that publicly. I prefer to let the authorities Hillsborough County, Florida, to talk about that. And the family of Don Lewis.
“There were so many inconsistencies and coincidences in the case, that the question of how faded it became very deep. I guess that the police department now receives tips and leads every day.
“(With the series) I didn’t set out to solve a murder. I wanted to expose the problem that means having big cats in the united States and where is that exploitation”.
Do you feel bad for Joe in some way?
I have some empathy for Joe, and there are parts of Joe that are fascinating and endearing.
“But on the other hand, I never thought that what he was doing was good. It was very clear that he was exploiting their animals, and had a great amount of suffering and abuse towards them”.
Tiger King is now one of the original programs most watched Netflix.
According to Nielsen, the docuserie of seven episodes has been view by 34.3 million unique viewers within the first 10 days of its launch, only in the united States.
Already surpassed the second season of Stranger Things, had 31.2 million viewers in its first 10 days.
From 20 to 29 march, it was the television program most tuiteado followed by Nielsen, with 1.8 million interactions organic on Twitter.
According to Netflix, Tiger King has been the title most popular in the united States in the last two weeks.
THEY ALL WANT TO BE JOE EXOTIC
Currently, there are two fiction series based on the story of the “King Tiger”, one led by Ryan Murphy, and Rob Lowe to the head, and another starring Kate McKinnon, who will give life to Carole Baskin.
“I give you an update: Ryan Murphy and I, we will develop our own version of this crazy story. ¡Stay tuned!”, tweeted Lowe this week.
In this season of quarantine, several celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen, Cardi B, Rob Thomas, Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Bryce Dallas Howard and Jessica Chastain, have been obsessed with the show.
Jared Leto even hosted a party at their house for maratonear Tiger King. And even disguised!
The climax of that devotion was when Dax Shepard and Edward Norton were fought on networks to see who was best option to play Joe Exotic in a possible movie.