In Quotes

Nathan Lane wasn’t ready for the homophobic backlash to ‘The Birdcage’

Lane in ‘The Birdcage’
“But you know, with the word ‘fag,’ it’s interesting. Two of the most sophisticated and groundbreaking comedians in the world, [director] Mike Nichols and [writer] Elaine May, they certainly came up in a world where that word, ‘fag,’ was used as a punchline. And wouldn’t let go of it. And I’ll tell you, after the film had come out and was a big success, I was sitting in a cab in midtown Manhattan in traffic, and there was a guy in a truck next to me. He looked down and I looked up and he seemed to recognize me and smiled, and I sort of waved. And he started yelling, ‘Hey, faggot! Faggot!’ And this went on and on and on. I sort of sunk back in the cabin. Finally, traffic moved. And I wanted to say, I wish Mike was here, so he could hear this use of the word. Not to take away at all from the success of the film and what it means to people and how it still makes people happy. But now of course, when they show it on network television, they bleep that word.”–Actor Nathan Lane, recalling the homophobic backlash to playing a drag queen in the hit comedy The Birdcage. In the same interview with The Daily Beast, Lane also recalls the cringey interview with Oprah Winfrey where she tried to get him to come out on television, and his limited career prospects following the success of the film.