Lane in Huntington Theatre Company's production of Simon Gray's Butley
February 3, 1956
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
|Devlin Elliott (m. 2015)|
Nathan Lane (born Joseph Lane; February 3, 1956) is an American actor and writer. He is known for his roles as Albert in The Birdcage, Max Bialystock in the musical The Producers, Ernie Smuntz in MouseHunt, Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, his voice work in The Lion King as Timon and Stuart Little as Snowbell, and his recurring roles on Modern Family, The Good Wife, and American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson as F. Lee Bailey. In 2006, Lane received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in 2008, he was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.
Lane was born Joseph Lane in Jersey City, New Jersey on February 3, 1956. His father, Daniel, was a truck driver and an aspiring tenor who died in 1967 from alcoholism when Lane was eleven. His mother, Nora, was a housewife and secretary who suffered from manic depression and died in 2000. He has two older brothers, Daniel Jr. and Robert. Lane's parents were Catholics of Irish descent. He was named after his uncle, a Jesuit priest. Lane attended Catholic schools in Jersey City, including Jesuit-run St. Peter's Preparatory High School, where he was voted Best Actor in 1974, and years later received the 2011 Prep Hall of Fame Professional Achievement Award.
Accepted to Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia on a drama scholarship, he was accompanied on what was supposed to be his first day there by his older brother Dan. Discovering that the scholarship would not cover enough of his expenses, he decided to leave, and work for a year to earn some money. "I remember him saying to me, 'College is for people who don't know what they want to do,'" his brother said. Because there already was a Joseph Lane registered with Actors Equity, he changed his name to Nathan after the character Nathan Detroit from the musical Guys and Dolls. He moved to New York City where, after a long struggle, his career began to take off, first with some brief success in the world of stand-up comedy with partner, Patrick Stack, and later with Off-Broadway productions at Second Stage Theatre, the Roundabout Theatre, and the Manhattan Theatre Club. He made his Broadway debut in a 1982 revival of Noël Coward's Present Laughter as Roland Maule (Drama Desk nomination) with George C. Scott, Kate Burton, Dana Ivey, and Christine Lahti.
His second Broadway appearance was in the 1983 musical Merlin, starring Chita Rivera and magician Doug Henning. This was followed by Wind in the Willows as Mr. Toad, Some Americans Abroad at Lincoln Center, and the national tour of Neil Simon's Broadway Bound.
Off-Broadway productions included Love (the musical version of Murray Schisgal's Luv),Measure for Measure directed by Joseph Papp in Central Park, for which he received the St. Clair Bayfield Award,The Common Pursuit, The Film Society, In a Pig's Valise, She Stoops to Conquer,The Merry Wives of Windsor and A Midsummer Night's Dream. He also appeared at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in The School for Scandal and John Guare's Moon Over Miami.
This section of a biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. (February 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
In 1991, Lane appeared with George C. Scott again in a revival of Paul Osborne's On Borrowed Time at the Circle in the Square Theatre on Broadway. In 1992, he starred in the hit revival of Guys and Dolls, playing the character who lent him his name, opposite Peter Gallagher and Faith Prince. For this performance, he received his first Tony nomination, as well as Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. In 1992, he won an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance.
His professional association with his close friend the playwright Terrence McNally, whom he met in 1987, includes roles in The Lisbon Traviata (Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Awards),Bad Habits, Lips Together, Teeth Apart, Love! Valour! Compassion! (Obie, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards),Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams, which opened in 2005 (Drama Desk nomination),The Last Mile on PBS Great Performances, and the film version of Frankie and Johnny.
The early 1990s began a stretch of successful Broadway shows for Lane. In 1993, he portrayed Sid Caesar-like Max Prince in Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor, inspired by Simon's early career writing sketches for Your Show of Shows. In 1996, he starred in the hit revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, for which he won the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. In 1998, he appeared Off-Broadway in Jon Robin Baitz's revised 1984 comedy, Mizlansky/Zilinsky or 'Schmucks'.
His association with Sondheim began with the workshop of Assassins. in 1989. In 1999, he appeared with Victor Garber in the workshop of Wise Guys (later retitled Road Show). His collaboration with Sondheim continued when Lane revised the original book for and starred in the Broadway debut of the composer's The Frogs at Lincoln Center in 2004. The Sondheim song, "Little Dream," in the film The Birdcage, a role for which Lane received his first Golden Globe nomination, was supposedly written especially for him.. This was followed by the dark comedy Mousehunt, one of the first films to come out of the newly formed Dreamworks Studios, in which he co-starred with British comedian Lee Evans and Christopher Walken. It was also the feature film debut of Gore Verbinski, who later went on to direct Pirates of the Caribbean.
In 1994, Lane voiced Timon, the meerkat, in Disney's blockbuster animated film The Lion King and reprised the role in its sequels. In 1995, he played the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz in Concert at Lincoln Center to benefit the Children's Defense Fund. The performance was originally broadcast on Turner Network Television (TNT). In 1999, he appeared in the Encores! concert revival of Do Re Mi at City Center. That same year he also voiced the role of Snowbell the cat in the family film Stuart Little opposite his Life With Mikey co-star Michael J. Fox.
In 2001, he starred as Max Bialystock in the blockbuster musical version of Mel Brooks's The Producers, a role that earned him his second Tony as well as Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. The following year he would go on to reprise his role as Snowbell in Stuart Little 2 and appear as Vincent Crummles in a film adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby. In 2004, he replaced Richard Dreyfuss in The Producers in the West End. Dreyfuss was let go just a week before the show's first preview at London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane.  Lane went on to win the Olivier Award as Best Actor in a Musical. His performance in the film version, opposite Broadway co-star, Matthew Broderick as Leo Bloom, earned him his second Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy. In 2003 he starred Off-Broadway in Trumbo: Red, White, and Blacklisted.
In 2005, Lane rejoined Broderick for a successful limited run of The Odd Couple. In 2006, he took on a primarily dramatic role in a revival of Simon Gray's Butley, having played the role to great success at The Huntington Theater in Boston in 2003. He and Broderick received adjacent stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in a joint ceremony on January 9, 2006 and were immortalized in wax as Max and Leo at Madame Tussauds Museum in New York City on January 16, 2009. In 2008, he played the President of the United States in the David Mamet political satire, November, directed by Joe Mantello. This was followed by the critically acclaimed 2009 revival of Waiting for Godot (Outer Critics Circle nomination) in which he played Estragon opposite Bill Irwin's Vladimir. He was a 2008 American Theatre Hall of Fame inductee.
In 2010, Lane starred in the musical version of The Addams Family as Gomez (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations). Committed to starring in a revival of the Eugene O'Neill play The Iceman Cometh at Chicago's Goodman Theatre in 2012, Lane assumed the role of Hickey, with Brian Dennehy playing the role of Larry Slade in a production directed by the Goodman's Artistic Director, Robert Falls. Receiving rave reviews, it won six Jeff Awards, including Best Ensemble, Director, and Production, and is the most successful show to date in the theater's history. In the spring of 2013, Lane returned to Broadway in The Nance, a Lincoln Center production of new play by Douglas Carter Beane that was directed by Jack O'Brien. For this performance, he received Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations and won the Outer Critics Circle Award and the 2013 Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance. The play aired on PBS Live From Lincoln Center in 2014.
In autumn 2014, he appeared in an all-star ensemble of Terrence McNally's revised and updated It's Only a Play, with F. Murray Abraham, Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, Rupert Grint, Megan Mullally, and Micah Stock. The show became one of the biggest hits of the season. In February 2015 he reprised the role of Hickey in the Robert Falls production of The Iceman Cometh to great acclaim at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He later returned to the Broadway run of It's Only a Play. In March 2016 he opened the play White Rabbit, Red Rabbit Off-Broadway. In fall of 2016 he returned to Broadway to rave reviews in an all-star revival of Hecht and MacArthur's The Front Page, directed by Jack O'Brien and produced by Scott Rudin. He played the ruthless editor Walter Burns opposite John Slattery as Hildy Johnson and John Goodman as Sheriff Hartman, for which he received Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle award nominations. Following that he played Roy Cohn with Andrew Garfield as Prior Walter in the revival of Angels in America, directed by Marianne Elliott at the Lyttlelton Theatre of the National Theatre of Great Britain. Lane is set to reprise his portrayal on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre, opposite the National Theatre cast, with Lee Pace replacing Russell Tovey.
When Lane told his mother at age 21 that he was gay, she replied, "I would rather you were dead," to which he replied, "I knew you'd understand." In 1996 when asked if he was gay by US magazine he replied, "I'm 40, single and work a lot in the musical theater. You do the math." Lane, who came out publicly after the death of Matthew Shepard, has been a long-time board member of and fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and has been honored by the Human Rights Campaign,Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation,The Trevor Project, and the Matthew Shepard Foundation for his work in the LGBT community. On November 17, 2015, Lane married his long-time partner, theater producer and writer Devlin Elliott.
He has received three Daytime Emmy nominations for George and Martha, Timon and Pumbaa and Teacher's Pet, and won two Daytime Emmy Awards, in 1995 for Disney's Timon and Pumbaa and in 2000 for Disney's Teacher's Pet. He has also received six Primetime Emmy Award nominations for guest appearances on Frasier, Mad About You, Modern Family, and The Good Wife. In 1999 he won the People's Choice Award for Favorite Male Performer in a New TV Series for Encore, Encore.
|1995||Frasier||Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series||Nominated|
|1998||Mad About You||Nominated|
|The Good Wife||Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|2014||Modern Family||Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series||Nominated|
Also the winner of 5 Outer Critics Circle Awards for Guys and Dolls, Love! Valour! Compassion!, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Producers, and The Nance, and two GQ Man Of The Year Awards for Theater in 1997 and 2000
His television credits include One of the Boys with Mickey Rooney and Dana Carvey, The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, the title role in The Man Who Came to Dinner, broadcast live on PBS, The Nance for Live From Lincoln Center, the voices of the title characters in two Disney animated series, Teacher's Pet and Timon & Pumbaa, as well as George and Martha on HBO. In addition to recurring roles on Modern Family and The Good Wife, he has made guest appearances on Miami Vice, Mad About You, Sex and the City, Frasier, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Absolutely Fabulous, 30 Rock, and Difficult People. He played F. Lee Bailey in the first-season episodes of American Crime Story, titled The People vs. O.J. Simpson, premiering on the FX channel in February 2016. It received 22 Emmy nominations and went on to win the Emmy for Best Limited Series, Mini-Series or Television MovIe.
He has hosted Saturday Night Live,The Tony Awards (once as host for the 50th anniversary telecast, and three as co-host, with Glenn Close and Gregory Hines; Rosie O'Donnell; and Matthew Broderick respectively), and appeared on Great Performances (Alice In Wonderland, The Last Mile, Guys and Dolls: Off The Record, My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs, Recording The Producers: A Musical Romp With Mel Brooks, and as host of the 30th anniversary telecast, A Celebration in Song). He has starred in two television films, The Boys Next Door and Laughter on the 23rd Floor. With the Boston Pops, he performed a tribute concert of Danny Kaye material, as well as appeared in the Harry Connick Christmas Special; Merry Christmas, George Bailey; The Wizard of Oz in Concert; and A Muppet Christmas: Letters to Santa. His attempts at a regular series of his own, Encore! Encore! and Charlie Lawrence were ratings disappointments.
|1990||The Lemon Sisters||Charlie Sorrell|
|1990||Joe Versus the Volcano||Baw, Waponi Advance Man|
|1991||He Said, She Said||Wally Thurman|
|1991||Frankie and Johnny||Tim|
|1993||Addams Family Values||Desk Sergeant|
|1993||Life with Mikey||Ed Chapman|
|1994||The Lion King||Timon||Voice|
|1995||Jeffrey||Father Dan||Nominated--American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture|
|1996||The Birdcage||Albert Goldman||American Comedy Award for Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated--Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated--Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated--MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Duo (with Robin Williams)
Nominated--Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated--Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
|1997||MouseHunt||Ernest "Ernie" Smuntz|
|1998||The Lion King II: Simba's Pride||Timon||Voice|
|1998||The Emperor's New Clothes: An All-Star Illustrated Retelling of the Classic Fairy Tale||The Imperial Dresser||Voice|
|1999||At First Sight||Phil|
|2000||Love's Labours Lost||Costard|
|2000||Isn't She Great||Irving Mansfield|
|2002||Stuart Little 2||Snowbell||Voice|
|2002||Nicholas Nickleby||Vincent Crummles||National Board of Review Award for Best Ensemble|
|2002||Austin Powers in Goldmember||Mysterious Disco Man|
|2004||The Lion King 1½||Timon||Voice|
|2004||Teacher's Pet||Spot AKA Scott Leadready||Voice|
|2004||Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!||Richard Levy the Driven|
|2005||The Producers||Max Bialystock||Nominated--Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy|
|2008||Swing Vote||Art Crumb|
|2010||The Nutcracker||Uncle Albert|
|2013||The English Teacher||Mr. Kapinas|
|2016||No Pay, Nudity||Herschel Thalkin|
|2016||Carrie Pilby||Dr. Petrov|
|1981||Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls||Stage Manager||Television movie|
|1982||One of the Boys||Johnathan Burns||13 episodes|
|1983||Great Performances||Mouse||Episode: "Alice in Wonderland"|
|1985||Miami Vice||Morty Price||Episode: "Buddies"|
|1989-1991||The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd||Bing Shalimar||3 episodes|
|1995||Frasier||Phil||Episode: "Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Twice..."
Nominated--Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
|1995||Timon & Pumbaa||Timon||Voice
Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program
|1996||The Boys Next Door||Norman Bulansky||Television movie|
|1998||Mad About You||Nathan Twilley||Episode: "Good Old Reliable Nathan"
Nominated--Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
|1998-1999||Encore! Encore!||Joseph Pinoni||13 episodes|
|1999-2000||George and Martha||George||Voice
Nominated--Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program
|2000-2002||Teacher's Pet||Spot Helperman||Voice
Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program
|2001||Laughter on the 23rd Floor||Max Prince||Television movie|
|2002||Sex and the City||Bobby Fine||Episode: "I Love a Charade"|
|2003||Charlie Lawrence||Charlie Lawrence||7 episodes|
|2004||Curb Your Enthusiasm||Nathan Lane||Episode: "Opening Night"|
|2004||Absolutely Fabulous||Kunz||Episode: "White Box"|
|2007||30 Rock||Eddie Donaghy||Episode: "The Fighting Irish"|
|2010-2017||Modern Family||Pepper Saltzman||9 episodes
Nominated--Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series (2011, 2013-14)
|2012-2014||The Good Wife||Clarke Hayden||15 episodes
Nominated--Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
|2014||The Money||Gordon McCarren||HBO pilot|
|2016||The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story||F. Lee Bailey||8 episodes|
|2016||Difficult People||Himself||Episode: "Kessler Epstein Foundation"|
|2016||Maya and Marty||Connor Grayfield||Episode: "Steve Martin & Tina Fey"|
|1978||A Midsummer Night's Dream||Francis Flute||Off-Broadway|
|1982||Present Laughter||Roland Maule||Broadway|
|1983||Merlin[disambiguation needed]||Prince Fergus||Broadway|
|1984||Love[disambiguation needed]||Harry Berlin||Off-Broadway|
|She Stoops to Conquer||Tony Lumpkin||Off-Broadway|
|1985||Measure for Measure||Pompey||Off-Broadway|
|Wind in the Willows||Toad||Broadway|
|1986||The Common Pursuit||Nick Finchling||Broadway|
|Broadway Bound||Stanley||National tour|
|1988||The Film Society||Jonathan Balton||Off-Broadway|
|1989||In a Pig's Valise||James Taxi||Off-Broadway|
|The Lisbon Traviata||Mendy||Off-Broadway|
|Assassins||Sam Byck||New York Reading|
|1990||Bad Habits||Jason Pepper, M.D./Hugh Gumbs||Off-Broadway|
|Some Americans Abroad||Henry McNeil||Broadway|
|1991||Lips Together, Teeth Apart||Sam Truman||Off-Broadway|
|On Borrowed Time||Mr. Brink||Broadway|
|1992||Guys and Dolls||Nathan Detroit||Broadway|
|1993||Laughter on the 23rd Floor||Max Prince||Broadway|
|1994||Love! Valour! Compassion!||Buzz Hauser||Off-Broadway|
|1996||A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum||Pseudolus||Broadway|
|1998||Mizlansky/Zilinsky or "Schmucks"||Davis Mizlansky||Off-Broadway|
|1999||Do Re Mi||Hubert Cram||Off-Broadway|
|Wise Guys||Addison Mizner||New York Workshop|
|2000||The Frogs||Dionysos||Library of Congress|
|The Man Who Came to Dinner||Sheridan Whiteside||Broadway|
|2001||The Producers||Max Bialystock||Broadway|
|2003||The Play What I Wrote||Mystery Guest Star||Broadway|
|Trumbo: Red White and Blacklisted||Dalton Trumbo||Off-Broadway|
|Butley||Ben Butley||Boston / Regional|
|The Producers||Max Bialystock||West End|
|2005||Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams||Lou Nuncle||Off-Broadway|
|Catch Me If You Can||Hanratty||New York reading|
|The Odd Couple||Oscar Madison||Broadway|
|2006||Catch Me If You Can||Hanratty||New York Workshop|
|2007||Catch Me If You Can||Hanratty||New York reading|
|2009||Waiting for Godot||Estragon||Broadway|
|2010||The Addams Family||Gomez Addams||Broadway|
|2012||The Iceman Cometh||Theodore "Hickey" Hickman||Chicago / Regional|
|2013||The Nance||Chauncey Miles||Broadway|
|2014||It's Only a Play||Jimmy Wicker||Broadway|
|2015||The Iceman Cometh||Theodore "Hickey" Hickman||Brooklyn Academy of Music|
|2016||White Rabbit, Red Rabbit||himself||Off-Broadway|
|The Front Page||Walter Burns||Broadway|
|2017||Angels in America||Roy Cohn||West End|