The actors starred in the 1996 movie, 'The Birdcage,' which led to speculations about Lane's sexuality, however, Williams stood by his side.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on March 27, 2023. It has since been updated.
We all have friends who support us through thick and thin. Moreover, their support means the world to us. For Nathan Lane, Robin Williams played an important role in making sure he did not have to come out when they were interviewed on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" more than a quarter of a century ago.
Lane, 67, and Williams acted in "The Birdcage," the 1996 movie in which Lane played Williams' partner and the star of his club. Lane revealed he was not ready to discuss his sexuality on national television yet. "I was not prepared at all for that," he told Willie Geist in TODAY's Sunday Sitdown on March 26.
"And I certainly wasn't ready to go from table to table and tell them all I was gay. I just wanted to talk about I 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."
Lane is starring in his 25th role on Broadway in "Pictures From Home." He revealed that as they appeared on the Oprah Show to promote "The Birdcage," Williams helped direct the conversation in different directions other than his sexuality.
"I don't think Oprah was trying to out me," Lane said. "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.'"
Lane, who won an Emmy Award in 2022 for his role in Hulu's "Only Murders in the Building," was all praises for Williams, who died by suicide in 2014. Lane said Williams was fine with not talking about his sexuality at all, but Oprah drove the conversation in that direction. "She was like, 'How come you're so good at that girlie stuff? Are you worried about being typecast?'" he said. "And then Robin sort of swoops in and diverts Oprah, goes off on a tangent, and protects me because he was a saint."
"Robin was just the greatest person, just such a beautiful, sensitive soul and so kind and generous to me," he said. "And it was, you know, it was sort of prescient about gay marriage. I think people just loved the movie because it's funny. And that's a way of — it's disarming. You know, that's how you draw people in."
Lane, who came out at the age of 21, explained why he was so reluctant to publicly discuss his own sexuality when "The Birdcage" came out. "I just wanted to do good work, and I hoped that people would like it," he said.
It is not the first time Williams has been lauded as a great friend. Sally Field paid a sweet tribute to her friend and "Mrs. Doubtfire" co-star Robin Williams. As per PEOPLE, ahead of the 2023 Screen Actors Guild Awards, she spoke about the movie "Mrs. Doubtfire" and about Williams.
"What you think about immediately is Robin. There isn't a moment of it that's not filled with my love and joy at being in his presence. I mean, Robin was Robin. He was everything he seemed to be: a generous, loving, sweet, geniously talented man. We all miss him," said Field.
One thing is sure about Robin Williams, he will forever be remembered for touching the heart of many, both on-screen and off-screen.