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Nathan Lane reveals Robin Williams protected him from being outed as gay on talk show

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Nathan Lane

Nathan Lane has recalled the moment when Robin Williams protected him from being outing him as gay on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

On Sunday Today With Willie Geist, The Producers star remembered travelling with Robin on the press tour for the 1996 queer comedy, The Birdcage.

During the press tour, Nathan and Robin appeared together on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where Nathan’s sexuality almost became a topic of conversation.

“I was not prepared at all for that,” he recounted. “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 finally (I) got a big part in a movie, and I didn’t want to make it about my sexuality.”

In The Birdcage, Nathan and Robin portrayed a gay couple whose son was about to be married. Nathan noted that queries about his sexuality were “sort of unavoidable” after playing a queer character on-screen.

“I don’t think Oprah was trying to out me. 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,'” the actor recalled. “He said, ‘Oh, it’s all right, don’t worry about – we don’t have to talk about it. We won’t talk about it.'”

Oprah asked on the show, “How come you’re so good at that girlie stuff?” and “Are you worried about being typecast?”, to which Nathan said Robin swooped in with a “tangent” to divert the conversation because “he was a saint”.

“I just wasn’t ready to do that,” Nathan concluded. “Now you have to make a public statement about it – 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.”

– Cover Media