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Hank Azaria Worried His Breakout Role In “The Birdcage” Would Offend All Gay People

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Nearly two decades after the release of the now-beloved comedy The Birdcage, actor Hank Azaria confesses that his breakout role as Agador, the Guatemalan houseboy to the gay couple portrayed by Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, had him worried he’d be offending all gay people.

Azaria appeared on Larry King Now to promote his latest film The Smurfs 2 and admitted that he’s still most frequently recognized for his role in the Mike Nichols-directed adaptation of the 1978 French comedy La Cage aux Folles. King asked Azaria if he felt any hesitation taking on such a flamboyantly gay role early in his career.

The actor replied:  “Hesitant’ is too mild of a word… not only could I be offending all gay people… but is the character going to work? Is it funny?”

He added that he’s never personally received any negative feedback about the performance in the film.

Watch a clip of Azaria in The Birdcage below and tell us if you think he’s perpetuating a stereotype or merely delivering an effective comedic performance.

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8 Comments

  • mpwaite

    I THOUGHT HE WAS HYSTERICAL.. One the reasons I fell in love with Hank Azaria!! His characterization fit well with the comedy; it was an over-the-top farcical movie about a gay couple.. I don’t think anyone took it seriously!!

  • hyhybt

    @mpwaite: Exactly. And the thing is, in this context, it’s not a *negative* stereotype.

  • redcarpet

    I still call aspirin “Pirin Tablets”.

    I honestly don’t think his character was THAT far off. I think we’ve all met at least one guy who was pretty darn close to Agador’s mannerisms. Not that there is anything wrong with it.

  • Caliban

    Normally I have a real beef with how gays are portrayed as lisping sissies or the sexless confidante of the leading lady. My problem isn’t with actual people who have so-called “effeminate” characteristics but that at least in the past that seemed to be the ONLY way gay characters were portrayed. The butler/”maid” character in the original La Cage Aux Folles movie, played by a black actor, WAS a one-note stereotype performance IMO.

    But I didn’t have a problem with Agador. He seemed like a fully rounded character of his own, not just a collection of stereotypical affectations.

  • Fitz

    It was the OPPOSITE of Borat– he respected the lisping queen he played. It was hilarious and enjoyable. Us gay people are pretty good at knowing when someone is laughing with us or at us.

  • Matt G

    jeez he was sexy in that movie

  • Bonerboy

    “You have a lovely singing voice, Agador-Spartacus!”

  • ZeeZee

    “C’mon, are you afraid of my Guatamalaness?…My Guatamalaness, my natural heat!”

    Love it.

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