May the Farce Be with Them: Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick Talk about 'The Producers,' Shopping and Banana Cream Pie

By McGuigan, Cathleen | Newsweek, April 9, 2001 | Go to article overview

May the Farce Be with Them: Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick Talk about 'The Producers,' Shopping and Banana Cream Pie


McGuigan, Cathleen, Newsweek


With more than two weeks until its official Broadway opening, Mel Brooks's musical version of his 1968 classic film farce "The Producers" is playing to sold-out preview audiences. Nathan Lane is the outrageous Broadway producer Max Bialystock, while Matthew Broderick is the jittery accountant Leo Bloom--the two schemers who cook the books on their surefire flop, "Springtime for Hitler." Last week the two stars dropped by the Broadway hangout Joe Allen's to schmooze with NEWSWEEK's Cathleen McGuigan.

BRODERICK: Hello there. Sorry I'm late... Just f---ed up. I totally--

LANE: You've been ill. You've been on medication.

MB: No, I just forgot. I totally spaced out. What a fun little angle that will be. [Laughs.] "He rushes in, disheveled, talking like an idiot."

NL: Nooo, you look snappy.

MB: Well, I knew I had an interview this morning.

NL: This morning. And then you couldn't remember why you put the suit on?

MB: Yeah.

NL: Great. As I told you yesterday, the blueprint for this interview is that New York Times interview with [director] Joe Mantello and [actress] Mary-Louise Parker, which is all about craft and, you know, the importance of theater in today's society. But of course, we're incredibly vain and shallow. So most of this dialogue will be about weight and hair.

MB: Could I have a cup of coffee?

NL: Do you want pie? Banana cream pie, will that cheer you up?

MB: Yeah. Pie's a cheerful thing.

MCGUIGAN:Did you guys know each other before this show?

NL: Well, you know, I first saw Matthew in "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and was amazed. He just had so much charm and charisma--and also you thought, "Wow, it's like he's inhabited by an old vaudevillian." How old were you when you did that?

MB: I was 21.

NL: So I was walking up 57th Street, and I saw him, and I had just seen the play. And I stopped him and said, "I just have to tell you, you were just fabulous." And he was very shy and said, "Thank you, thank you very much." And then he noticed...

MB: I didn't even know who he was.

NL: No, no. I wasn't, uh, that famous. And we both happened to be wearing blue striped shirts. And for lack of anything else to say, he said, "Look, we're wearing the same shirt." In that very Matthew Broderick way. And I laughed and I said, "Well, you're my idol. Now I'm starting to dress like you." And that's when he started to get nervous and--[They both laugh.]

MB: I got frightened.

NL: --and he looked for a cop. No, he just went on his way. After that we would run into each other here and there, you know. We knew each other from "The Lion King" [both did voices]. But we had never worked together onstage.

How do you feel about stepping into roles immortalized on film by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder?

NL: We're haunted by them. Zero and Gene will always be Bialystock and Bloom. And we're borrowing the roles for a while.

You two really seem to have bonded.

NL: There's a huge part of the show that's our chemistry. And that really helps the show overall. …

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May the Farce Be with Them: Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick Talk about 'The Producers,' Shopping and Banana Cream Pie
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