Joe vs. Carole Star Kyle MacLachlan on the Pressures of Portraying a Real-Life Figure

Part of what launched the world of Tiger King into the pop-culture spotlight was how the real-life figures chronicled in the ordeal felt like they were larger-than-life characters in their own right, a fact made all the more shocking as we knew that they were actual people and not dramatized versions of real identities. This meant that, for Joe vs. Carole actor Kyle MacLachlan, playing Howard Baskin came with some additional pressure, not only because he's playing a character inspired by a real person, but also because Baskin could potentially even check out the series to see how MacLachlan's interpretation compared to who he really is. Joe vs. Carole is now streaming on Peacock.

"Well, it's a pressure and also a sense of responsibility to him, to at least get it as right as possible," MacLachlan shared with ComicBook.com of the challenges that came with the role. "I had the advantage of working from a script that was really well constructed. I thought the character of Howard was really well developed. He was written as a decent human being in an overwhelming, crazy world. And so my responsibility was really to bring a sense of balance and centeredness and maybe a little bit of gravity to what was happening around him." 

He added, "That said, he's a crazy guy, as well. He's a very sensitive, emotional person, very intelligent, highly intelligent, and just really needed to be with Carole. I mean, they have a beautiful relationship that is, I think, almost at the level of soul match. I feel they were made for each other. And all of that was there. Also, I brought more of that to the performance. As well as in the scenes, Kate [McKinnon] and I concentrated on the love story between these two. All of my scenes, apart from one or two, were with Kate and involved Kate. And there were some intense scenes together, all revealing this journey of the two of them as people. I thought it was beautifully written and really, I think, I hope that Howard will be pleased with what he sees and feel like he was represented. Probably not fully represented, all the elements, but at least in a positive way."

Based on the Wondery podcast Joe Exotic, hosted and reported by Robert Moor, the limited series will center on Carole Baskin, a big cat enthusiast, who learns that fellow exotic animal lover Joe "Exotic" Schreibvogel is breeding and using his big cats for profit. She sets out to shut down his venture, inciting a quickly escalating rivalry. But Carole has a checkered past of her own and when the claws come out, Joe will stop at nothing to expose what he sees as her hypocrisy. The results prove dangerous.  

Audiences likely most know McKinnon for her outlandish comedic personas, and while playing Carole Baskin came with some lighthearted moments, audiences will surely see another side of the performer with the more dramatic sequences in the series.

"Kate, to be honest, she is quite reserved and quiet, shy, and a little introverted as a person," the actor shared of his co-star. "She's quite thoughtful, and an observer. But there's a flip side to that. When she inhabits a character, whether it's on SNL or the character of Carole, she is ferocious, she is explosive. She is absolutely... Just imbues the person that she's playing with all of the energy and life and excitement and eccentricity that we've all seen and grown to love because of what she does. So really, really two different people. When she's in the character like that, she is still available, aware, present, kind."

He continued, "She's the full package. She's the real deal. I got to say, she has done an extraordinary job with this, and she made every scene together absolutely a delight. She worked hard on this. She worked almost every single day. I had days off here and there, and I know that when I came to work and I knew I was working with her, I was there and we were going to have fun. And, hopefully, it was something that she looked forward to every time we had a scene together. And we were always shaking the script, finding the real stuff in it. It was a wonderful experience working with her."

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Joe vs. Carole is now streaming on Peacock.

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