'Birdcage' Actor Dan Futterman Recalls Mike Nichols Breaking Into Fits of Giggles on Set

Courtesy Everett Collection
'The Birdcage'

Nichols let stars Nathan Lane and Robin Williams "go and get it out of their system, and you never know what you'll find, something brilliant may come up, and he would take all the time that was needed," Futterman remembers in a THR tribute to the director

This story first appeared in the Dec. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Dan Futterman starred in Mike Nichols' The Birdcage in 1996.

There was a small moment on the set that really struck me.

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Dianne Wiest was just coming off winning her second Academy Award for Bullets Over Broadway, where she's so funny as that low-voiced actress. At the read-through, she was doing a similar sort of voice, and I thought it was hilarious.

I was sort of eavesdropping as Mike sidled up to her afterward and said very simply to her, "I want more of you." And immediately she just dropped it and did her own voice, in an equally brilliant performance. I had so little experience, but I was struck by such an accomplished actress saying: "I trust you. Whatever you want, I'm going in that direction, and I trust you to lead me." That stuck with me.

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And it was different with different people. He spent a long time, and he loved every minute of it.

There were times when he had to move his monitor into the other room because he was giggling when Robin Williams was doing his takes. But he would just let him and Nathan [Lane] go and get it out of their system, and you never know what you'll find, something brilliant may come up, and he would take all the time that was needed.

Read more from THR's tribute to Mike Nichols:

Glenn Close Reveals Mike Nichols' Final, "Touching" Words to Her

Morgan Freeman Reveals the Phrase That "Exemplifies" Mike Nichols

Emma Thompson, Rita Moreno on Working With the Director

Tom Stoppard on Mike Nichols: "The Pleasantest Person to Be With"

How Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky Became Mike Nichols: A Timeline

Critic's Notebook: Todd McCarthy Reflects on the Film Career of Mike Nichols

Mike Nichols: A Giant of the American Theater

 

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