GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, consisting of over 400 journalists covering film, TV and Broadway/Off-Broadway, has named Nathan Lane its Timeless Star for 2022/23. Created for an entertainer “whose exemplary career is marked by character, wisdom and wit,” the career achievement honor has previously gone to Rita Moreno, Sir Ian McKellen, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Leslie Jordan, John Waters, George Takei, Meryl Streep, Harvey Fierstein, Betty White, Catherine O’Hara, Cloris Leachman and Dame Angela Lansbury.
“Nathan Lane is an icon of stage and screen, a master of both drama and comedy, and GALECA is proud to recognize him for an undeniable career as one of the great forces in entertainment,” said GALECA President Diane Anderson-Minshall. “The rare talent who is appreciated across multiple generations and genre fans, Nathan is beloved for showing more than a hint of color in modern-day film classics like The Birdcage, taking on daunting Broadway roles like true-life figure Roy Cohn in 2018’s revival of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, and helping make Hulu’s mystery-comedy Only Murders in the Building so binge-worthy.”
Said Lane in a statement via his publicist: “My great thanks to the members of GALECA for this lovely honor. I assume being a Timeless Star means my career has stood the test of time, and not that I don’t wear a watch—because I’m actually very punctual, an important part of being a professional. Seriously, thanks so much for thinking of me, and much love.”
Lane—who in the early 2000s also starred in The Producers, which holds the record for most Tony wins for a Broadway musical—is now earning raves for his 25th Broadway role, as a stubborn patriarch in the family relationship dramedy Pictures from Home. Current and upcoming film screen roles include Beau is Afraid alongside Joaquin Phoenix, the out-there original musical F—-ing Identical Twins with Bowen Yang and Megan Thee Stallion, and the animated Spellbound.
Via their Dorian Awards, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics members have voted on their favorites in film and television, mainstream to LGBTQ+, since 2009. The organization will begin honoring New York stage productions as well with the inaugural Dorian Theater Awards, with winners announced June 1.
Critics and entertainment journalists in the organization on why the star is so timeless:
Mey Rude, Out magazine and The Advocate: From the first time I heard Nathan Lane’s unmistakable voice in The Lion King as one half of the first same-sex couple I ever saw on screen, I was drawn to his one-of-a-kind presence. Now, in the thirty years since, he’s done nothing but become a bigger legend in my eyes. Nathan Lane is a brilliant actor in that he could play any role, but no one but Nathan Lane could play Nathan Lane.
Cameron Scheetz, Queerty: Nathan Lane is one of those talents that’s almost too easy to take for granted, simply because he’s always been there, putting in the work. Many of us grew up with him in our lives, whether on stage or screen (or as the voice of a resourceful meerkat), and even if we weren’t aware of it at the time, he showed us it was possible to be accepted, respected, and loved, simply by being ourselves.
Kiona Jones, Game Rant: My foremost memory of Nathan Lane was hearing his big, booming voice in The Lion King. He put so much emotion and expression into such a tiny little character. It wasn’t until I saw The Birdcage that I realized just how hard he works to give that level of energy every time someone yells, “Lights!”
Joshua Encinias, contributor to MovieMaker magazine: Nathan Lane brings an effervescence to every role—whether as the scheming Max Bialystock in The Producers or the screaming drag queen Albert in The Birdcage—that’s unmistakable and irreplaceable.
Kristy Puchko, Mashable: From the moment he burst into rapid-fire banter (and crocodile tears) as the ferocious drag queen Starina slash loving parent and partner Albie in The Birdcage, Nathan Lane gave permission to every LGBTQIA+ person watching to dare to live that out loud. Line deliveries that (schmecken) beckoned back to the divas of the Golden Era made us laugh and thrill, but also brought a positive representation of a gay family into households who hadn’t met one yet. From there, he was everyone’s “gay Uncle Al.” Lane’s lively humor was opened the door, but the vulnerability he brought to talk of toothbrushes and loving his family urged us to follow him through, urging us to be silly. Be dramatic. Be daring. Be loved. Be who we are. Because in the end, Nathan Lane sang to us all that we are family.
Lindsay Wallace, contributor to Time, Inverse: I love Nathan Lane’s kind demeanor, the effort he made to be a role model for gay people during such a painful time, and his continued grace today.
BJ Colangelo, contributor to Slash Film: The beauty of Nathan Lane’s career is that there’s truly something for everyone. Children trying to navigate their queerness can see themselves in his family-friendly fare, only to grow up and laugh or sing along with his roles in comedy films or cry alongside him in serious dramas. No matter the age or mood, there’s a Nathan Lane performance to speak to our hearts.
John Paul King, The Washington Blade and Los Angeles Blade: From The Birdcage to The Gilded Age, Nathan Lane has been quietly been forging a queer space across all our screens for decades. He richly deserves to be acknowledged for his pioneering career, and to he recognized – with high honors – for it!
Matt Baume, YouTube host and contributor to Seattle’s The Stranger: “Timeless” is exactly the right word to describe Nathan Lane’s wonderful body of work. Both on stage and on screen, Nathan’s nuanced portrayals of complex gay characters (and characters we just have a feeling about!) have expanded audiences’ understanding of queer peoples’ lives, while reliably bringing millions to laughter and tears. Nathan’s decision to publicly come out in a national publication in the 1990s took colossal courage at a time when openly queer public figures were in short supply. From his role as an advocate for equality to his countless roles as heros, villains, and tricksters somewhere in between, it’s a joy to recognize Nathan among the trailblazers who have given our community a figure to look up to.
Photo: Lev Radin