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How Nathan Lane Achieved a Net Worth of $20 Million

Few actors are as naturally funny as Nathan Lane. This skilled and intelligent actor not only has the chops to make an audience laugh but can also pull off serious dramatic work. This diversity has given Lane a lengthy and acclaimed career in many different acting mediums.

What exactly is Nathan Lane net worth? Has this constantly working actor earned enough money to support himself and his partner? Understanding Nathan Lane net worth numbers can help his many fans know just how much money his amazing skills have brought him over the years.

Nathan Lane Net Worth: You Might Be Surprised

As one of the most respected stage, television, and film actors of his time, Nathan Lane has been in constant demand for many roles. Lane, who can do comedy and drama with equal aplomb, lacks leading actor looks and is typically cast as a supporting character. As a result, he doesn't bring home massive checks but has been consistently successful enough to earn a net worth of $20 million.

While $20 million is obviously a lot of money, it's not as much as some might think for an actor as busy as Lane. Beyond his stage and live-action acting, Lane has been a consistently in-demand voice actor in animated films. Furthermore, he has been a popular actor for musical comedies due to his strong singing voice and his ability to make a song hilarious by singing in just the right way.

How the Money is Made

Lane has earned this money by splitting his time almost equally between stage and filmed mediums. Lane is a natural stage actor and his larger-than-life personality does particularly well on Broadway. He has said multiple times that he prefers stage work to filmed work but that movies and television are his main bread and butter. Acting on Broadway, even for a major name like Lane, is simply not as profitable.

His success as an actor has been particularly inspiring to LGBTQ performers around the world. Lane, who has been openly gay for his whole life, has never suppressed his personality or his lifestyle. This has helped him remain a milestone in the LGBTQ community, including for young performers who may struggle to accept themselves without the help of someone like Nathan Lane.

Lane's Long and Successful Career

Nathan Lane grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey, and was bit early by the acting bug. He appeared in a high school production of the play No, No, Nanette. While attending St. Peter's Prepatory School, he was voted “Best Actor” in 1974 and was later given the 2011 Prep Hall of Fame Professional Achievement Award from the school. After graduating, he decided to pursue a career in acting.

Lane was originally supposed to attend Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia on a drama scholarship, but decided that the scholarship would not cover his expenses. He dropped out on the spot and changed his name to “Nathan Lane” from “Joseph Lane” because another actor with that name was already on the Actors' Equity list. Lane then relocated to New York City.

Like many who try to make their name in acting, Lane's career didn't take off immediately. There was a long struggle to find consistent acting gigs in the sometimes fickle world of entertainment. Lane did find some success as a stand-up comedian with his partner Patrick Stack. Later, he appeared in the Second Stage Theater and the Roundabout Theater, off-Broadway productions that boosted his profile.

Nathan Lane's First Broadway Gig

In 1982, Lane finally got his first Broadway gig by appearing as Roland Maule in Noel Coward's Present Laughter. Lane appeared alongside George C. Scott, Elizabeth Hubbard, Jim Piddock, and other major Broadway names. He earned a Drama Desk nomination for his performance, which helped raise his profile even further on the Broadway scene.

Lane eventually appeared in multiple Broadway and off-Broadway productions, including Merlin, Some Americans Abroad, Wind in the Willows, Broadway Bound, Measure for Measure, and more. Lane continued to earn acclaim and awards for his acting during this time. Highlighting all of his successes during this time would be far too extensive to list fully here.

Lane's Film Career

Though Lane's early success was focused primarily on Broadway, he started his film career in 1987 in the movie Ironweed. From there, he appeared in multiple supporting roles, including in Joe Versus the Volcano, Adam Family Values, Life With Mikey, and He Said, She Said. One of his biggest successes during these early years was voicing Timon in Disney's The Lion King, a role he also played on Broadway.

After this success, Lane became a hotter commodity and appeared in The Birdcage in 1996 alongside Robin Williams. This film, one of the last collaborations between comedy legends Elaine May and Mike Nichols, featured Williams and Lane playing gay partners who own a drag club. Williams son, from a brief drunken fling with the mother, is getting married and Williams and Lane must pretend to be his parents.

The film was a surprise success and topped the box office on its opening weekend, grossing nearly $200 million worldwide. It received very positive reviews for Williams and Lane. The two actors possessed natural comedic chemistry. Williams and Lane were particularly praised for being both funny and serious, with Williams giving a rare restrained role.

Even the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation praised the film by showcasing how it went “beyond the stereotypes” to see the humanity of the primarily LGBTQ characters. Its success proved that Lane could be a major leading character in a movie and that LGBTQ themes could be mainstream. It is often called one of the most important films of its time for LGBTQ acceptance.

Awards Lane Has Earned

Lane is one of the most heavily nominated and award-winning actors of his generation. For example, he has won three Tony Awards for Best Actor for his stage work. These include nods for “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and “The Producers.” The latter is one of his trademark performances and has become the role that he's likely to be more remembered for as an actor.

Beyond these awards, he has also won six Drama Desk and Outer Critics Cricle Awards, two Obies, and an Oliver and Lucille Lortel Award. Lane has also been nominated for two Golden Globes, one Screen Actors Guild Award, and six Primetime Emmies. He even earned two nominations for the Daytime Emmy Award and one People's Choice Award nomination.

Just about every role he takes earns acclaim and nominations, which has allowed him to stay active and earn even more wealth. Just as importantly, Lane has remained a remarkably giving individual, someone who works with multiple charities. It is for this work, along with his acting, that he earned a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star and induction into the US Theater Hall of Fame.


His charitable causes include joining the Broadway Cares and Equity Fights AIDS, working with the Human Rights Campaign Equality Award, supporting the Matthew Shepard Foundation, and the Trevor Project Hero Award. Much of his work comes in supporting the LGBTQ community, including working with young performers early in their careers to help them accept themselfs better as people.

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Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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