Nathan Lane Says Robin Williams Protected Him from Being Outed on ‘Oprah’


Nathan Lane, a renowned Emmy and Tony winner, has revealed in a recent interview on “Sunday Today” how his co-star Robin Williams helped protect him from being outed on national television during a promotional appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Lane and Williams starred in the 1996 film “The Birdcage,” a comedy about a gay couple living in Miami who become embroiled in a conflict with a conservative politician when their son announces his engagement to the daughter of the politician.

Lane, who is openly gay, was worried about being ostracized by Hollywood if he spoke too publicly about his private life.

In the interview, Lane shared how he confided in Williams about his fear of discussing his sexuality on national television, stating, “I’m not prepared to discuss that I’m gay on national television. I’m not ready.” Williams, who Lane describes as a “saint,” stepped in and made sure that the conversation did not become too uncomfortable for Lane.

When Winfrey asked Lane questions that hinted at his sexuality, Williams swooped in, diverted the conversation, and protected Lane from the uncomfortable discussion.

“Robin sort of swoops in, and diverts Oprah and goes off on a tangent and protects me, because he was a saint,” Lane said. “I was terrified … It’s great that everyone now feels comfortable, but homophobia is alive and well, and there are plenty of gay people who are still hiding.”

Lane also revealed that “The Birdcage” had a significant impact on him personally, even though the film’s success helped elevate him to a bonafide movie star.

The film’s modernized take on the 1978 Franco-Italian film, “La Cage aux Folles,” depicted a same-sex couple who were also parents, which was a pioneering depiction for that time. Lane takes comfort in the fact that the movie has continued to inspire and help others who have been struggling with their sexuality.

“I think people just love the movie because it’s funny. It’s disarming, that’s how you draw people in,” Lane said.

Lane’s fear of being outed on national television highlights a much larger issue within the entertainment industry. Despite progress, homophobia is still prevalent, and LGBTQ+ individuals are often subjected to discrimination and ostracism. Lane’s experience with Williams shows the importance of having supportive allies and friends who protect and uplift the LGBTQ+ community.

The interview with Lane on “Sunday Today” comes at a time when he is once again on a professional high. He won an Emmy last year for his guest appearance on Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building,” and he is currently starring in the Broadway play “Pictures from Home,” alongside Danny Burstein and Zoë Wanamaker.

In conclusion, Nathan Lane’s interview on “Sunday Today” sheds light on his personal experience with homophobia within the entertainment industry and how Robin Williams helped protect him from being outed on national television. Lane’s fear highlights a much larger issue within the LGBTQ+ community, and Williams’ supportive actions serve as an example of the importance of having allies and friends who uplift and protect the community. Finally, “The Birdcage” has continued to be a pioneering film that has inspired and helped individuals struggling with their sexuality.

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