Born Joseph Lane, the actor changed his name to Nathan after the character Nathan Detroit from the musical Guys and Dolls.
Lane's career began on Broadway, most notably in the first production of Terrence McNally's Lips Together, Teeth Apart. His first large film role was supplying the voice of Timon in Disney's The Lion King. After spending much of the 1990s working on movies, Lane returned to the Great White Way in the hit musical The Producers. He is openly gay.