Nathan Lane

American actor

Joseph Nathan Lane (born February 3, 1956) is a two-time Tony and Emmy Award-winning American actor of the stage and screen. He is perhaps best known for his roles as Albert in The Birdcage, Max Bialystock in the musical The Producers, Ernie Smuntz in Mousehunt and his voice work in The Lion King and Stuart Little.

Nathan Lane in 2006


  • I can remember seeing the movie for the first time at a revival house in L.A. and laughing with everyone else, and never imagining that I would be doing Max one day, even though by then I had already memorized the entire movie.
    • On his role in The Producers — reported in Amy Longsdorf (December 25, 2005) "Lane, Broderick play off each other", The Record, p. E01.
  • I think of myself as an actor and not a movie star. I like doing movies; I enjoy it. But, essentially, I'm a theater actor. That's the only place I feel like I actually am a star. In the theater, I can put people in the seats and sell tickets.
    • Amy Longsdorf (January 25, 2000) "Isnt' He Great? - Hollywood Sure Thinks So, But Nathan Lane Is Still More Comfortable Onstage Than On Celluloid", The Record, p. Y1.
  • I had to develop a sense of humor I'm sure it's a defense mechanism. It was, 'Before they make fun of me, I'll make a joke.' Being funny is just a point of view about life in general. Sometimes it's born out of difficult childhoods, where you have to develop a sense of humor. Ultimately, it's a gift.
    • Marshall Fine (January 24, 2000) "Nathan the 'Great'", The Journal News, p. 1E.
  • There's a freedom there and an understanding of my career and the things I've done. I'm seen here as primarily a comic actor, which is OK, but I can go to New York and I do something that's very emotional. It would be lovely at some point to do something like that on film.
    • Betsy Pickle (December 17, 1999) "If there's a mouse, call Lane - Actor didn't 'paws' before taking on film", The Knoxville News-Sentinel, p. 4.
  • But in order for anyone to become successful, sometimes you have to be that driven and focused, and maybe there isn't a lot left over for personal relationships—although I certainly have had them. It's not as if I cut myself off, but it makes them very difficult. This profession is very hard on relationships.
    • John Koch (July 11, 1999) "Nathan Lane", Boston Globe, p. 12.
  • I guess there's some sort of unspoken show business rule, [speaks in British accent] 'You do the theater, and then you move into television, and then, of course, that is your steppingstone to film stardom.' I've done it every which way. I've done theater for many, many years and then had some success in films. I would do television sporadically. I thought this was a good time to try it.
  • A sitcom is the closest thing for me to doing stage because you work in front of an audience, and if it's well written it can be very satisfying.
    • Sunday Tasmanian staff (January 4, 1998) "This Is A Very Mice Story!", Sunday Tasmanian, p. 037.
  • My oldest brother used to take me to the theater. The first play he took me to see was 'Black Comedy,' then he took me to see 'Butley.' We'd see all these British plays. And 'Hello, Dolly,' with Pearl Bailey. I was unconsciously thinking, 'Gee, I would love to be able to do that.'
  • I was at a dinner party at Steve Martin's house not too long ago. Some very funny people were there - Steve, Marty Short, the whole gang. We sat around the table, like eight of us, and we laughed so hard that we were just sitting there laughing and crying. And I thought, 'This is great. This is what it's like when life is really good. Sitting around with people of that quality and that caliber, people being funny. Smart and funny.' It's great.
  • I'll always go back to the stage.
  • The more competition, the better. I hope to get snubbed again this year.
  • Yes, I've been compared to Jackie Gleason often. I've been often compared to Lou Costello. … But after a while you start to go, 'Well, geez. Do I have a personality in there?' The funny thing about Gleason is, he always used to talk about watching Jack Oakie. And if you ever watch Jack Oakie in an old movie, it's very similar to Gleason. … I think we all steal from one another.
    • Laurence Chollet (November 19, 1991) "Knocking Them Dead Even As a Grave Figure, This Actor Has The Last Laugh", The Record, p. D05.


  • There isn't anyone else like Nathan. He is able to express more in a look or a word than most actors I've ever worked with.
  • I think it really is all about technique, but it's where the intersection of acting and singing sort of meets. There has to be a musicality to the delivery of a line of dialogue that gives it impact. Somebody like Nathan Lane understands that. It's in his bones really. He can deliver a line five different ways, and each one has incredible impact and intonation and rhythm.
    • Rob Minkoff, on Lane's ability with voice acting — reported in Evan Henerson (July 19, 2002) No Vocal Yokels - When Animated Characters Need That Extra Dimension, Stars Step Up To The Mic", Daily News of Los Angeles, p. U6.
  • When Nathan read aloud one of his lines, 'I'm a lying, despicable crook, but I have no choice. I am a Broadway producer,' they all howled. And then they started to throw money at the project. They all wanted to produce the show.
  • He is a theater animal who is ignited by his synergy with an audience. Audiences are only beginning to see the tip of the iceberg of what Nathan can do.
    • Lynne Meadow — reported in Michael Sommers (May 26, 1996) "Nathan In The Fast Lane, From Broadway to `Birdcage' to hosting - the Tonys, 'Forum' star rules", The Star-Ledger, p. 12.
  • I've seen most of Nathan's work, but it was seeing both 'Lisbon Traviata' and 'Laughter on the 23rd Floor' that I realized just what a superb physical comic he was.
    • Mike Nichols — reported in Kenneth M. Chanko, Entertainment News Wire (March 11, 1996) "Dragged Into The Limelight", Press-Telegram, p. D1.
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