LOUIS Theroux has opened up on his first encounters with Tiger King's Joe Exotic back in 2011 and judged, with the benefit of hindsight, there was a "seemingly veiled threat" to do nemesis Carole Baskin harm.
Carole, although not often reference in Louis' original BBC series, America's Most Dangerous Pets, catapulted to fame in the 2020 Netflix show Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, as Joe's arch-rival.
So much so Joe, real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is behind bars after having been found guilty of a murder-for-hire plot relating to the Big Cat Sanctuary owner – which he denies – and multiple animal cruelty charges.
This month, The Sun Online revealed how award-winning documentary maker Louis will re-visit his experiences with Joe by trawling through his 2011 footage, as well as making another visit to Oklahoma, for a new BBC show.
It was while he was doing the former he told MetroOnline he detected in the dialogue "a kind of seemingly veiled threat to do Carole harm."
He said it suggested one or the other would end up dead, and continued to the publication: "I want to be totally honest with you, when I saw that I was excited because I thought, 'oh my God here’s a little extraordinary, little jewel actually that I hadn’t even remembered,'
"I didn’t even realise we were filming at the time. ‘I had no recollection of it taking place, and when I heard, 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.'
"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 fee bridal mindset that Joe was slipping into."
Louis, whose new show will hit the BBC soon, spoke of how the I Saw A Tiger singer, 58, was portrayed as "loveable" on the Netflix series where as Carole – who he will meet in his follow up and is accused by some quarters of killing her husband – appears "judgemental."
Giving insight into his new show, Louis Theroux: The Cult Of Joe Exotic, he said: "I suppose one of the things I’m looking at in the film is the fact that the story sort of flipped upside down halfway through.
"The first 45 minutes is a kind of telling how Joe became increasingly obsessed with Carole Baskin and tried to have her killed and then is convicted at trial.
"The jury deliberates for three hours, he was found guilty on all charges and sent to 22 years in federal prison. Then Tiger King comes out and suddenly Joe is the most loved person on TV – well, the most celebrated – and Carole Baskin is the most hated.
"How that plays out is the second half of the film."
In something that might well have been obvious to viewers of the 2011 series, when he clambered into a tiger cage with Joe, Louis admitted he "liked" the controversial star, and spotted his "sensitive" side.
He has previously told how the Joe Exotic story has now become "stranger and bigger" on his return to the US 10 years later.
As well as trawling through unseen footage from 2011, the broadcaster reveals Louis will meet "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."
While he is behind bars, Joe's campaign team are continuing to battle for a presidential pardon for the TV star, something that was refused by Donald Trump shortly before he left office this year.
Speaking of his latest project, Louis 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."
Meanwhile, to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Tiger King on Netflix, the streaming service has teamed up with TikTok and RuPaul Drag Race stars for a special spin off, Tiger Queens.
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