Taking questions from TV critics about his performance for PBS in Douglas Carter Beane’s Tony-nominated play The Nance, Nathan Lane got asked if he thinks gay characters should be played only by gay actors. In The Nance, Lane plays Chauncey Miles, a nance performer working during the period when New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia was trying to do away with burlesque.
“No,” he replied. “We just had The Normal Heart [with] Mark Ruffalo — fantastic job. … I certainly don’t think that. That way madness lies. Only gay actors can play gay parts and straight actors can play straight — then I wouldn’t have played Nathan Detroit — one of the great joys of my life — or Max Bialystock.”
Another critic at TCA today wondered what getting another Emmy nomination, for guest starring, on ABC’s Modern Family, “has meant for your career.” Lane laughed, then responded: “It’s a tribute to those writers. … They’ve been able to maintain the quality, which is not easy. I can only say it’s been a great pleasure. … I have just to go and play with them a couple times a year. And stuff like an Emmy nomination is always icing on the cake.
“I’m hoping I’m a sentimental choice, since I’ve been nominated six times and never won,” Lane continued, He noted that he’s in the running with Jimmy Fallon and Louie C.K. for guest hosting Saturday Night Live, “which seems different than a guest star thing. “
Another vote for Emmy category reform.
Lane said he particularly enjoyed this past season of Modern Family “because they gave me — first of all, I found out what [Pepper Saltzman] did for a living. Nobody else ever told me — he was an event planner. And gave him a partner, Renaldo. So that’s been a wonderful thing. And where it goes, I don’t know. I don’t know if I will ever see that spinoff, A Dash of Pepper — but at least he’s got a living, got a husband. I think we could do something!”
The Nance airs as part of PBS’ Live From Lincoln Center, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary season. It premieres October 10.