Christine Baranski Revisits The Birdcage, Grinch, Addams Family Values

Baranski also teases Season 5 of ‘The Good Fight!’

Writing an introduction for an extended Christine Baranski interview is tough. Usually with these Collider Ladies Night write-ups, I pinpoint some of my favorite quotes about a project I think you’d all really enjoy hearing more about, but narrowing this conversation down to just one highlight is impossible. Alas, I have no choice! While I’m going to put the spotlight on what Baranski had to say about working with Robin Williams on The Birdcage in this write-up, I’ll also urge you to scroll down to the bottom of this article for a full video timecode so you can catch a glimpse of all the incredible projects Baranski discussed in this interview. But for now, to The Birdcage!

The Mike Nichols-directed film is an adaptation of La Cage aux Folles starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as a couple running a drag nightclub in South Beach. Baranski steps in as Katharine, a woman Williams’ character had a one-night stand with that resulted in them having a son together. A standout scene in the movie sees Baranski and Williams’ characters reuniting after not having seen each other for a good while. Still, the love and respect they have for one another radiates off the screen. Baranski began:

“I’m so proud of that scene. It moves me on a number of levels. Robin, without a doubt, one of the most talented people whoever worked, and with whom I ever worked. We were both Juilliard grads and I remember him in the halls of Juilliard. He was a few years below me.”

Nathan Lane and Robin Williams in The Birdcage
Image via United Artists

In addition to Williams’ performance, Baranski also applauded the changes made to that particular scene:

“But what I love about that scene is, it’s not like the scene in the French movie. And the French movie, I think is brilliant, but the one scene I didn’t like in the French movie was the scene between the mother and those two people. She just seemed to me too abrupt in her seduction and she just went for the bottle and suddenly her hands are all over him and I thought, that just felt unearned to me.”

Baranski further recalled working through some alterations with Nichols:

“I said to Mike, ‘Why don’t we just take time with the beginning of it?’ And Mike liked my sitting on the desk with my legs crossed in sort of a Mrs. Robinson camera angle of him looking up at my legs. The scene now has a kind of slow rediscovery. It gets sexy because they’re remembering back in their youth when they had too much to drink and suddenly they were in bed together. Then they sing that song and it reminds them of the time when they were doing that together, and you can kind of feel the thing happen in the moment. When he lifts me up and all, it’s like a remembered intimacy and I think there’s a sweetness to that scene. It’s one of my favorite scenes I’ve ever done on film.”

Christine Baranski in The Birdcage
Image via United Artists

You’re eager to hear more from Baranski, right? Good, because there’s so much more to cover in her full Collider Ladies Night interview! She takes us all the way from her earliest inspirations and first Tony Award win to making the pivot to TV and then racking up loads of feature film credits. You can catch the full conversation in the video at the top of this article or using the podcast embed below!

Christine Baranski:

  • 00:40 – What first inspired Baranski to become a performer; how Mame made a major impact early on.
  • 03:00 – On growing to love dance when she was young, before she was bit by the acting bug.
  • 04:00 – Why it never occurred to Baranski that she could go to Hollywood and become a movie star when she was first starting out; initially, she dreamt of a theater career.
  • 06:16 – Why her Juilliard training came in handy for every medium despite the focus on theater.
  • 07:20 – First making the jump to television in her early 40s; how television opened up the doors to more film opportunities.
  • 09:00 – Baranski discusses winning her first Tony Award; did it create any pressure to win more in her mind?
  • 11:00 – What it’s like winning so many awards early on, but now being a “consistent loser.”
  • 12:12 – Baranski looks back on working with Ted Demme on The Ref.
  • 13:38 – What project is Baranski approached about the most?
  • 15:08 – Why joining the cast of Cybill was one of the bravest decisions of Baranski’s career.
  • 17:42 – Baranski’s journey working on different forms of television.
  • 20:35- Would Baranski ever do a horror movie?
  • 20:51 – Baranski revisits working on The Birdcage with Robin Williams; the scene from the movie that’s still one of her favorite scenes she’s ever done on film.
  • 24:08 – What was it like filming the Thanksgiving show scene in Addams Family Values?
  • 26:10 – Baranski addresses that Mamma Mia! ouzo rumor; was that set and ensemble as special as it seems?
  • 30:25 – Baranski discusses her experience working on How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
  • 32:53 – What’s a seemingly little performance thing that Baranski still finds challenging on set?
  • 34:41 – Is Baranski in Grease?
  • 35:42 – How might the energy of The Good Fight change with a new presidency on the horizon?
  • 38:19 – Baranski has worked with many of the greats; whose process is most similar to hers and who challenged Baranski to adapt the most?
  • 40:22 – Random questions begin! Find out what show Baranski binge watched most recently, her favorite prop that she’s kept from set and her biggest fear overcome.

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