During a recent interview with TODAY’s Sunday Sitdown, Nathan Lane revealed that Robin Williams, his co-star in the 1996 movie “The Birdcage,” played a crucial role in keeping Lane’s sexuality private during their appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” more than 25 years ago. Lane, who played a drag queen in the film, said he was not ready to discuss his sexuality on national television at that point in his life. Williams, who died in 2014, redirected the conversation when Winfrey brought up the topic during their interview, allowing Lane to avoid discussing his personal life in public.
Lane acknowledged that “The Birdcage” was progressive in its approach toward same-sex relationships, and said that he found comfort in knowing that the film had helped some viewers come to terms with their own sexuality. However, he also explained that he simply wanted to do good work and hoped that people would appreciate his performances, without focusing on his personal life.
Lane has been out since he was 21, but said that he was not prepared to discuss his sexuality in such a public forum at the time of his appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” He praised Williams for his sensitivity and generosity, describing the late actor as a “saint” who protected him from uncomfortable questions during the interview.
Lane’s recent Emmy Award win for his work on Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building” highlights his enduring popularity and talent as an actor. However, his recollection of his experience on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” with Williams serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people in the entertainment industry and beyond, as they navigate the often-complicated intersection of their personal lives and public personas.