Nathan Lane reveals how Robin Williams ‘Protected’ him in Oprah interview
- Nathan Lane told Sunday Today host Willie Geist about a time Robin Williams “protected” him.
- Lane said Williams saved him from discussing his sexuality before he was ready in an interview.
- The two appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 1996 to promote their movie “The Birdcage.”
Nathan Lane opened up about how Robin Williams “protected” him during a 1996 guest spot on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
In a preview of the March 26 episode of “Sunday Today with Willie Geist,” Lane, 67, told Geist that Williams saved him from discussing his sexuality while doing press for their 1996 film, “The Birdcage.”
“I finally got a big part in a movie and I didn’t want to make it about my sexuality,” Lane told Geist. “Although it was sort of unavoidable because of the nature of the film and the character.”
In the movie, Lane plays Albert, a drag queen who is in a relationship with Miami drag-cabaret owner Armand (Williams). When Armand’s son Val gets engaged to the daughter of a conversative US senator, Armand and Albert present themselves as a straight couple to meet Val’s fiancée’s parents, with Albert dressing in drag as Val’s mother.
Lane added that he said to Williams before their Oprah appearance, “I’m not prepared to discuss, you know, that I’m gay on national television. I’m not ready.”
The actor remembers Williams telling him not to worry prior to the appearance.
Nathan Lane (left) and Robin Williams (right) star in the 1996 film, “The Birdcage.”
Frank Trapper/Getty Images
Lane said that during the interview Oprah asked Lane about his ability to portray a gay man on screen, adding that he doesn’t think she was “trying to out him.”
“And so then, of course she was like, ‘How come you’re so good at that girlie stuff? Are you worried about being typecast?'” Lane said to Geist. “And then Robin sort of swoops in and diverts Oprah and goes off on a tangent and protects me because he was a saint.”
Lane told Geist he was “terrified” of the idea of making a public statement about his sexuality after “The Birdcage” and “wasn’t ready” to share that with the public.
In February 1999, Lane came out publicly in a cover story for The Advocate. Lane married his long-term partner Devlin Elliott in 2015.
In August 2014, Williams died by suicide at age 63. During an August 2014 interview with CBS, Lane reacted to the “heartbreaking” death of his costar. “Nobody was more kind or generous, and he was the most compassionate and sensitive soul — I mean, obviously, funny, and you know; an entertaining person to be around,” Lane said.
The full interview with Lane on “Sunday Today with Willie Geist” will premiere on Sunday, March 26.
Representatives for Lane and Winfrey did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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