The Birdcage (1996) Poster



Mike Nichols required that Nathan Lane and Robin Williams filmed at least one good take of each scene sticking to the script before he would allow them to improvise (something both of the two actors are known for)
Director Paul Thomas Anderson has said that this movie is one of two films "that without fail or question will make me stop dead in my tracks and watch [it] all the way to the very end, no matter what else is happening or needs to get done." The other film is Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980).
Robin Williams's slip and fall during the "shrimp" scene was not planned. Williams really fell and he, Hank Azaria, and Dan Futterman are holding back laughter.
Director Mike Nichols had to be covered by a sound blanket during the toast scene because he was laughing too loud.
Breakthrough movie role of American Broadway actor Nathan Lane.
Robin Williams was originally cast as Albert, but he wanted a change from flamboyant characters, and asked to be cast as Armand. Mike Nichols agreed, and re-cast him.
In the movie, Calista Flockhart's character Barbara is "not even 18". Flockhart was actually 31 at the time of the filming. Dan Futterman's character Val is supposed to be 20, but in reality, he was actually 27 when the film was being shot.
Hank Azaria created two different voices for the character of Agador Spartacus, one being somewhat of a more masculine voice and the other one being higher pitched. He was worried about the second one being too stereotypical until he asked a gay friend of his, who thought it was more realistic.
Agador Spartacus is based upon Hank Azaria's grandmother
Filmmaker and PBS producer Rick McKay was hired by director Mike Nichols, months before filming of "Birdcage" began, to go to Paris, London, San Francisco and Atlanta to make a feature length documentary about drag queens. McKay did thorough research to find drag queens all over the world to interview and to film in performance. This finished documentary was used to train Nathan Lane and Robin Williams.
Hank Azaria realized after filming that he had actually based his voice on his grandmother's.
Steve Martin was originally cast as Armand Goldman and Robin Williams was to play Albert Goldman but scheduling conflicts caused Martin to drop out of the role and Williams then decided to assume the role of Armand instead.
The song sung by Armand and Katherine in her office, "Love Is in the Air," is a song that was cut from the Stephen Sondheim musical "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." Originally supposed to be the first number in the show, it was replaced by the song "Comedy Tonight", sung by Nathan Lane in the 1996 Broadway Revival.
The screenplay is based on the well-known French farce La Cage aux Folles (1978).
With $18.3 million, had the highest weekend opening gross with an openly gay character in the lead until Brüno (2009).
While Albert acts as Mother, Armand describes her to Senator Keeley as the "girl from Grover's Corners." Senator Keeley replies that Grover's Corners is "a great place to call home." Grover's Corners is the fictional, idyllic small town in Thornton Wilder's famous stage play "Our Town."
Robin Williams's seventh film to gross over $100 million in the US.
The two-minute opening sequence looks like one continuous Steadicam shot when, in fact, the sequence consisted of three separate shots seamlessly combined through the magic of dissolves, matting, and morphing:
  • Shot one began in a helicopter out over the Atlantic and ended over the street in Miami's South Beach area where the club was located

  • Shot two began on a crane (simulating a chopper) where the Steadicam operator was gradually lowered to ground level before stepping off the crane; he then traversed the street and proceeded through the club's front door

  • Shot three was executed on a studio soundstage where the Steadicam operator began just outside the "club" exterior, and then proceeded inside for the shot's conclusion. According to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, the most difficult aspect of the process was matching the speed of the crane with that of the helicopter.

David Alan Grier was originally cast in the role of butler, but the racial implications and cultural differences from the play caused the production to combine the butler role and Hank Azaria's character.
The Stephen Sondheim song "Can That Boy Foxtrot", used in the film, was a song cut from the original stage production of Sondheim's musical, "Follies".
The Jonathan Swift piece about Irish peasants eating their babies that Val refers to is "A Modest Proposal".
In the early '80s, director Mike Nichols was hired by producer Allan Carr to direct a different "Americanized" version of La Cage aux Folles (1978), this one for Broadway. It was to be set in New Orleans and titled The Queen of Basin Street. However, when Carr brought in a new production team to co-produce, Nichols, choreographer Tommy Tune, and composer Maury Yeston were all fired. This project eventually became the 1983 hit Broadway musical, La Cage aux Folles.
The original working title of the film was "Birds of a Feather" and the first drafts of the script still bear this title.
The pianist who plays for Albert during his rehearsal with Celsius is wearing a T-shirt with Maria Callas, the famous operatic soprano, on it. The picture was taken after a performance of Puccini's "Madama Butterfly."

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