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Robin Williams 'swooped in' and saved Nathan Lane from Oprah outing him

Jess Hardiman

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Robin Williams 'swooped in' and saved Nathan Lane from Oprah outing him

Featured Image Credit: NBC/Harpo Productions

Robin Williams once ‘swooped in’ to save Nathan Lane from being 'outed' on The Oprah Winfrey Show, with the Tony Award-winning actor saying he ‘protected’ him during the earlier stages of his career.

Watch the original Oprah interview where Williams helped Lane here:

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Lane, 67, has well-known credits in everything from kids’ classics like The Lion King and Mouse Hunt to his Emmy-winning turn in Only Murders in the Building, having now worked with pretty much anyone who’s anyone on the international TV and film circuit.

Back in the day, he starred alongside Robin Williams in 1996 flick, The Birdcage, which saw the pair play a gay couple trying to marry off their straight son (Dan Futterman) to a young woman (Calista Flockhart).

Robin Williams and Nathan Lane in The Birdcage. Credit: MGM/UA Distribution Co.
Robin Williams and Nathan Lane in The Birdcage. Credit: MGM/UA Distribution Co.

Remembering what it was like to work with the late, great, Williams on Today, Lane said his co-star was ‘the greatest’ and ‘such a beautiful, sensitive soul’, who had been ‘so kind and generous’ to him when they worked together.

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In the new interview with Sunday Today's Willie Guest, Lane spoke about what it had been like promoting the film alongside Williams – who, at one point, had helped ‘protect’ him during an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1996, when he hadn’t wanted to discuss his sexuality openly.

While Lane said he had been out since he was 21, and also didn't think Oprah had tried to out him on purpose, he didn't feel ready to speak about it in the public sphere.

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“I'd finally got a big part in a movie, and I didn’t want to make it about my sexuality – although it was sort of unavoidable because of the nature of the film and the character,” he said.

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“There was this famous moment when we had to do Oprah – and I don’t think Oprah was trying to out me – but I said to Robin beforehand, ‘I'm not prepared, I'm so scared of going out there and talking to Oprah. I’m not prepared to discuss that I’m gay on national television. I’m not ready.’

“And he said, ‘Oh, it’s alright, don’t worry about it. We don’t have to talk about it. We won’t talk about it.

Credit: NBC
Credit: NBC

“Then of course she was like, ‘How come you’re so good at that girly stuff? Are you worried about being typecast?’

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“And Robin sort of swoops in and diverts Oprah and goes off on a tangent, and protects me, because he was a saint."

Lane continued: “I just wasn’t ready to do that – this whole thing, the public side of it, the celebrity side.”

He added: "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."

UNILAD has reached out to the Oprah Winfrey Network for comment.

Topics: Celebrity, Film and TV, Robin Williams, LGBTQ

Jess Hardiman
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