Louis Theroux has uncovered previously unused footage from his interview with Joe Exotic that shows a “seemingly veiled threat” against Carole Baskin.
The BBC documentarian is soon to release a feature-length special about the Tiger King, whom he met 10 years ago while filming America’s Most Dangerous Pets.
Discussing the project, Theroux revealed he has discovered moments from his archive interviews with Exotic that have never been seen before – including a “seemingly veiled threat to do [Big Cat Rescue boss] Carole harm”, which Theroux said he had “no recollection of”.
“I thought, that’s extraordinary, here’s Joe saying that, ‘Someone’s in touch with a hitman in Tampa Florida and either Carole is going to be killed or Joe is going to be killed,'” he told Metro.
“I thought that was really odd, and then I had to listen to it a few times to really get exactly what he’s saying.
“He’s not saying, ‘I’m Joe, I’m gonna have Carole killed,’ he’s just suggesting that. So it’s both sorts of everything and nothing in an odd way and I think more than anything, it sort of is a description of the febrile mindset that Joe was slipping into.”
Joe Exotic eventually made good on this apparent threat, and he is now serving 22 years in federal prison for a murder-for-hire plot to kill Carole Baskin.
Theroux reportedly received a message from the former zoo owner in prison asking him to “come and tell the real story”, and the pair went on to exchange a series of emails.
However, after further attempts to contact him and his estranged husband Dillon Passage, Theroux was warned off by lawyers representing Royal Goode Productions (RGP), which made Tiger King.
According to The Times, Theroux was issued with a cease-and-desist notice from RGP, whose founder Eric Goode is said to have bought the “life rights” to Joe Exotic.
Theroux found the “level of aggressiveness of the Tiger King team … quite surprising”, saying that they “proactively attempted to make it difficult for me to make my programme”.
“It got my dander up,” he added. “And then I quite quickly wanted to get my dander down because it’s not a good place to work from a feeling of annoyance, because it skews your judgment.”
Louis Theroux: Shooting Joe Exotic will be on BBC Two on 5 April.