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‘He was a saint’: Nathan Lane recalls how Robin Williams ‘protected’ him during Oprah interview

Lane and Robin Williams starred as a couple in 1996’s ‘The Birdcage’

Annabel Nugent
Monday 27 March 2023 07:07 BST
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Remembering Robin Williams

Nathan Lane has recalled the moment that Robin Williams “swooped in” to save him from discussing his sexuality on a talk show.

The Modern Family star, 67, shared the heartwarming anecdote during an interview on Sunday TODAY With Willie Geist.

He and Williams were set to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show to promote their 1996 LGBTQ+ comedy The Birdcage.

Lane recalled (as per ET Canada) that he felt nervous before the show, telling host Willie Geist: “I said to Robin beforehand… ‘I’m not prepared to discuss, you know, that I’m gay on national television. I’m not ready.”

The actor said that Williams put his mind at ease, before helping him out on stage as well.

“And so then, of course she [Winfrey] was like, ‘How come you’re so good at that girlie stuff? Are you worried about being typecast?’” Lane recalled.

“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 went on to explain that not discussing his sexuality was difficult given that he starred in The Birdcage as Albert Goldman, an openly gay man who performs in a South Beach drag club owned by his partner (played by the late Williams).

(United Artists)

The actor clarified that he does not believe Winfrey was trying to out him as a gay man at the time.

Lane told Gesit that he did not believe that he had to make a statement about his sexuality simply because he was starring as a gay character.

Lane married the playwright and producer Devlin Elliott in 2015.

The full interview with Lane airs on NBC News on 26 March.

Lane is not the only celebrity reflecting on his relationship with Williams. Sam Neill described the late actor as both the “funniest” and “saddest person I’ve ever met”.

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