The sound of people arguing about movies or sports or music is deeply reassuring. It is a fortifying beacon, one that assures us that the arts endure – and that we enjoy the freedom and security to get steamed over them from time to time. And so for the sixth year, you have voiced your opinions on such matters, telling us in no uncertain terms who deserves to be distinguished as GQ’s Men of the Year.
Now, however, that celebration seems only a small part of the story, for long after the votes had been tallied and the honorees had been interviewed and photographed, tragedy reminded us of our true good fortune –the liberty to celebrate at all. And while we pause to savor the talent among us, we also honor the men whose sacrifices afford us such blessings, whose accomplishments grant us the luxury to even recognize filmmakers, musicians, athletes and newscasters. Although the news is not always good, we know that it will improve soon and that, in America, another cause for celebration is always right around the corner.
Art Director: Paul Martinez
NATHAN LANE – THEATER ACTOR
As the star of Broadway’s deliriously adored Nazi knee-slapper, The Producers, Nathan Lane proves an enduring theater truth: While tortured thespians are always riveting, nothing thrills an audience like the actor who can make ‘em laugh. Helplessly, unremittingly –as when Lane’s Max Bialystock, the desperate producer who sets out to stage a flop, is auditioning Hitler and bedding little-old-lady investors. Tearing around the stage like a Boston terrier with a comb-over, Lane brings antic, pitch-perfect irony to a slew of tricky, potentially sticky lines such as It was so crass and so crude/Even Goebbels would have booed. “Nathan is the most gifted musical-comedy performer I’ve ever worked with,” says Mel Brooks, who cowrote, composed and produced the musical, which is adapted from his 1968 movie. “Nathan’s innately aware of what the joke should sound like. He knows the music –the music of the joke.”
Lane won a Tony for the role; now he’s Broadway biggest draw. But it hasn’t come without a struggle. The critics roughed him up for participating in big-screen bombs like Isn’t She Great and a small-screen disaster called Encore! Encore! By the time Brooks came calling, the theater never looked so good. “It’s in many ways what I do best,” says Lane, who made his first mark on Broadway in Guys and Dolls. “I would like to be in a movie that I thought was great, but I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want to have to convince some 25-year-old executive that I know how to act.”
So Lane is proceeding with caution, listening to pitches, bracing himself for another run at the networks. If he had his way, he jokes, he’d just remake The Snoop Sisters, playing half of a gay detective duo who never solve any crimes because they’re too busy looking at everyone’s houses. “The DNA and the clues are beyond us because we’re just so involved in the decorating,” Lane explains.
Excuse me, Tony, have you met Emmy?
Photographed by Mary Ellen Mark in New York City on August 9, 2001.