Nathan Lane Recalls Robin Williams’ Advice About Coming Out After ‘The Birdcage’: “He Would Protect Me Whenever He Could”

Nathan Lane, Robin Williams, The Birdcage

Nathan Lane and Robin Williams on the set of 'The Birdcage' (1996). Everett

Although it took Nathan Lane nearly a decade to publicly embrace his truth, he had some great allies behind the scenes.

As the actor was honored with the Career Achievement Award at the Critics Choice Association’s inaugural Celebration of LGBTQ+ Cinema & Television this month, he recalled how his late friend and The Birdcage co-star Robin Williams would “protect me whenever he could” at a time when Lane wasn’t ready to come out as gay publicly.

“I had marched in Pride Parades in the late seventies, but nobody had ever expressed interest in my sexuality,” said Lane in his speech, according to People.

Related Stories

nathan lane recalls robin williams’ advice about coming out after ‘the birdcage’: “he would protect me whenever he could”
News

Oprah Winfrey Hospitalized With "Some Kind Of Stomach Thing," Misses 'CBS Mornings' Appearance

nathan lane recalls robin williams’ advice about coming out after ‘the birdcage’: “he would protect me whenever he could”
News

Nathan Lane, 'Fellow Travelers' Among Honorees At Critics Choice First Annual 'Celebration Of LGBTQ+ Cinema & Television' Awards (Watch Video)

He explained that he came out to his family at age 21 and was even out to his “friends and colleagues in the business” before he was first asked about his sexuality by a theater journalist “way back in 1989.”

Noting that when he “began playing gay roles, it started to come up more and more,” Lane recounted the topic coming up again during an interview with Oprah Winfrey in promotion of 1996’s The Birdcage.

nathan lane recalls robin williams’ advice about coming out after ‘the birdcage’: “he would protect me whenever he could”

Nathan Lane accepts the Career Achievement Award during the Critics Choice Association’s inaugural Celebration of LGBTQ+ Cinema & Television on June 7, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images for Critics Choice Association)

“I certainly wish I had been braver at the time,” he said. “Like when Oprah Winfrey on her show asked me why I was so good at all that girly stuff in The Birdcage. If I could go back in time, the answer I wish I had given is: The reason I’m good at all that stuff is because I’m a wonderful actor, but if you’re asking me if I’m gay, the answer is yes and proud of it.”

Although he was “terrified and overwhelmed” by the experience, Lane was comforted by some wisdom Williams had given him before the TV appearance.

“I had expressed my fears beforehand to the late, great Robin Williams, who kindly said to me, ‘Don’t worry, Nathan. You don’t have to discuss it if you’re not ready,'” said Lane. “And he went on to protect me whenever he could throughout the awkward moments.”

He and Williams starred together in the US adaptation of the 1973 play La Cage aux Folles, a French comedy that was later made into a film in 1978.

nathan lane recalls robin williams’ advice about coming out after ‘the birdcage’: “he would protect me whenever he could”

Robin Williams and Nathan Lane star in The Birdcage (1996). (United Artists / Courtesy Everett Collection)

They played Miami drag queen Albert (Lane) and club owner Armand (Williams), a gay couple that has to pretend to be straight and hide their relationship when their son (Dan Futterman) visits with his fiancée (Calista Flockhart) and her conservative Republican parents (Gene Hackman and Dianne Wiest).

Lane earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in the film, which was also nominated for Best Motion Picture — Comedy or Musical.

The Producers star later came out to writer Bruce Vilanch in a 1999 cover story for The Advocate after he was motivated by Matthew Shepard, who was beaten and left for dead for being gay in 1998 when he was 21, bringing national attention to hate crime legislation.

He recalled Shepard’s death as “an incredibly sobering moment” in his speech, adding: “I’d already come out on a personal level, why not come out publicly now that I was the so-called public figure if it might be meaningful to others in the struggle. So I did, and I’m glad I did.”

Williams, who was long considered an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, died by suicide at age 63 in 2014.

OTHER NEWS

44 minutes ago

Gutsy wins put sevens men in box seat as Games begin

44 minutes ago

Eye-watering cost of EV transition

44 minutes ago

Munster all clear for Storm return as Eels lie in wait

44 minutes ago

Tesla's best bet for growth has nothing to do with cars or AI

44 minutes ago

Competition Bureau investigating retail gasoline consultancy Kalibrate

44 minutes ago

Elon Musk says Trump ending EV tax credits would be 'devastating' for rivals — but not Tesla

44 minutes ago

Amazon Revamps Prime Video: New Look, AI Smarts & More

44 minutes ago

Mercury may have 10-mile thick layer of diamonds beneath its surface, NASA craft discovers

44 minutes ago

Joe Biden tacitly admits he dropped out because his party just didn’t want him anymore

44 minutes ago

‘RHONJ’s Teresa Giudice Makes Call To “Stop Engaging” With “Hate & Toxicity” On Social Media; Melissa Gorga & Rachel Fuda Share Shady Posts

49 minutes ago

Chicago Sky co-owner on the WNBA’s success, Angel Reese – and hotel minibars

49 minutes ago

Kering posts 11% drop in Q2 sales, sees weak second half

49 minutes ago

Alberta wildfires: Crews working to save Jasper from 2 blazes

49 minutes ago

Watchdog finds no improper influence in sentencing recommendation for Trump ally Roger Stone

49 minutes ago

Ford shares fall sharply after-hours as EV division posts $1.14 billion loss

49 minutes ago

Delta CEO Addresses Mass Cancelations in Memo Before Flying to Paris for the 2024 Summer Olympics

49 minutes ago

Angel Reese Becomes Latest WNBA Star to Join New 3-on-3 Basketball League: 'The Barbie Is Unrivaled'

49 minutes ago

Britain’s Crown Estate post record profits on offshore wind licenses

49 minutes ago

Bulldogs confirm interest in wrecking ball

49 minutes ago

Southwest Airlines deals with exploding soda cans caused by intense summer heat

49 minutes ago

Canada imposes cap on residential school searches

49 minutes ago

From Landa and Carapaz to Almeida and Yates: These men will light up the Vuelta and ensure an exciting, open battle

49 minutes ago

Blue Line's Bill Baruch: I believe in Tesla

49 minutes ago

Kevin Hart Has Tom Brady Roast Regrets, Vows To Do Things Different In Future Prep

49 minutes ago

Suspect in custody after hours-long standoff in Schaumburg following shooting stemming from noise dispute

49 minutes ago

Singapore PE manager Seraya adds $969m offshore wind company to its renewables platform

49 minutes ago

US spot Ether ETFs make strong market debut in another win for crypto industry

49 minutes ago

NSW Police called to Lawrence after truck enters Clarence River

49 minutes ago

AQWA: Police probe as video shows people fishing out of Hillarys aquarium

49 minutes ago

‘He deserves some respect’: Trent Barrett locks in Clint Gutherson at fullback over Blaize Talagi for rest of the year

49 minutes ago

Global tech slump knocks Asia shares

59 minutes ago

Suns owner Mat Ishbia wants to bring NHL back to Phoenix

1 hour ago

Gina Carano Beats Disney’s Move To Kill ‘Mandalorian’ Firing Suit; Now Trial Looms

1 hour ago

Colman Domingo Shares ‘Euphoria’ Season 3 Update & If He’ll Reprise His Role Of Ali

1 hour ago

Crown argues accused in Coutts murder-conspiracy trial prepared for war

1 hour ago

Store clerk stole $1M lottery ticket from unsuspecting winner, police say

1 hour ago

Letter: Please explain the draw to Donald Trump

1 hour ago

India budget highlights main issues but doesn't devote resources to them: Former central bank governor

1 hour ago

Top U.K. rider out of Olympics after horse-whipping video surfaces

1 hour ago

Braxton Kuntz makes Manitoba golf history with 4th straight amateur crown