Born: February 03, 1956
Date of Birth: February 3, 1956
Born Joe Lane in Jersey City, New Jersey, Nathan Lane took his stage name from Nathan Detroit, the character he played to great acclaim in the 1992 Broadway version of Guys and Dolls.
Lane made his film debut in 1987's Ironweed, and he spent the rest of the 1980s and early 1990s playing supporting roles in films such as Joe vs. the Volcano (1990), Frankie and Johnny (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993). During this time, his stage career was thriving; in addition to his celebrated turn in Guys and Dolls (for which he won a Tony nomination, as well as Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards), he frequently collaborated with playwright Terrence McNally, who cast him in a number of his plays including The Lisbon Traviata in which Lane played an opera queen, and Love! Valour! Compassion!, in which he starred as Buzz, an HIV-positive musical aficionado who provides much of the play's comic relief and genuine anger. The actor won particular acclaim for his portrayal of the latter, taking home Obie and Drama Desk Awards for his work.
In 1994, the same year that he starred in the stage version of Love! Valour! Compassion! (his role was played in the film version by Jason Alexander), Lane gained fame of a different sort, lending his voice to Timon, a hyperactive meerkat in Disney's animated The Lion King. He reprised the role for the extremely successful movie's 1998 sequel. Two years after playing a meerkat, Lane finally became widely visible to screen audiences as Robin Williams' flamboyantly limp-wristed lover in The Birdcage, Mike Nichols' remake of La Cage aux Folles. The film helped to establish Lane as a comic actor worthy of big-screen exposure, and in 1997 he was given his own vehicle to display his talents, Mouse Hunt.
Unfortunately, the film was a disappointment, as was Encore! Encore!, a 1998 sitcom that cast him as a Pavorotti-like opera singer. In 1999, he could be seen in At First Sight and Get Bruce, a documentary about comic writer Bruce Vilanch. The same year, he could also be heard in Stuart Little, a live action/animated adaptation of E.B White's celebrated children's book.
Returning to stage, Lane scored a huge success in the Tony-award winning musical The Producers, also starring Matthew Broderick. The two stars left the show after a year, but when they returned to their original roles, sales once again skyrocketed. They went on to star in the film version.