Nathan Lane Recalls How Robin Williams Protected Him From Discussing His Sexuality on Oprah Winfrey's Show

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Nathan Lane is recalling the sweet moment when Robin Williams saved him from having to talk about his sexuality when he wasn't ready to do so.

In an upcoming interview on Sunday TODAY With Willie Geist, the 67-year-old actor fondly remembered the time he and Williams were set to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show to promote The Birdcage, but before doing so, he turned to Williams and told him why he was feeling nervous.

"I said to Robin beforehand ... 'I'm not prepared to discuss, you know, that I'm gay on national television. I'm not ready,'" Lane says, before revealing Williams told him not to worry.

Lane admits not talking about his sexuality was a bit of a challenge, considering his character in the 1996 comedy, Albert Goldman, is an openly gay man who stars in a South Beach drag club owned by his partner, Armand Goldman, played by Williams, who tragically died in August 2014

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

To be fair, Lane says he doesn't think Winfrey was trying to out him as a gay man. But the subject about sexuality was a sensitive one for him at the time. He also tells Geist that he didn't buy into the notion that, just because he became a public figure with The Birdcage, he had to make a statement about his sexuality or disclose that he was gay.

Lane would go on to marry his longtime partner, the playwright and producer Devlin Elliott, in 2015.

The full interview with Lane airs on NBC News' Sunday TODAY With Willie Giest on March 26.


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