"He's always had a special place in my heart," Tiger King's John Finlay tells PEOPLE of Channing Tatum

By Christine Pelisek and Benjamin VanHoose
April 04, 2020 05:15 PM
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Netflix; JC Olivera/WireImage; Taylor Hill/WireImage

John Finlay has his sights set on a couple of A-list actors to portray him in an eventual biopic.

The real-life subject featured in Netflix‘s popular docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness tells PEOPLE that he’d want Channing Tatum to play him in a scripted adaptation of his life story.

“He’s always had a special place in my heart,” Finlay says of Tatum, 39, sharing a sweet personal connection to the star. “He did a shout-out to my distant cousin; she died of stage-four brain cancer. When he did his shout-out, he did it because it was on her bucket list.”

According to Finlay, his relative (who died about six years ago at age 18) had requested a kiss from the 21 Jump Street actor — a wish Tatum granted in a personalized video message sent to her.

“He has a special place in my heart because of that,” Finlay says, adding, “But he’s [also] a really good actor, and a lot of people are putting names out there with him in it.”

And if Tatum’s schedule is booked, Finlay says his other go-to pick is Shia LaBeouf. “He would probably be a good choice because with a beard he can look like me, and he can relate to me,” Finlay says of the 33-year-old Honey Boy star.

John Finlay in Tiger King
Netflix

RELATED VIDEO: Celebrities with Connections to Netflix’s Hit Docuseries Tiger King

Finlay is the ex-husband of Joseph Maldonado-Passage (best known as Joe Exotic as well as the Tiger King), who is the disgraced zookeeper at the center of the seven-episode series. The stranger-than-fiction true story is set to be made into a Hulu limited series starring Kate McKinnon, though other roles have yet to be cast.

The Netflix docuseries’ filmmakers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin recently revealed which big-name celebrities Maldonado-Passage, 57, (who’s currently in prison) has in mind for bringing his own eccentric persona on-screen.

“He would like Brad Pitt or David Spade to play him,” Chaiklin recently told The Hollywood Reporter, adding, “He doesn’t refer to David Spade as David Spade — he refers to him as ‘Joe Dirt.’ ”

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is now available to stream on Netflix.