Jeffrey Tambor has been accused of sexual harassment by Transparent co-star Trace Lysette, who is calling on Amazon to fire the two-time Emmy winner and “let the show go on.” In response, Tambor has issued a statement of his own, denying any such predatory behavior.
In accounts first published on Thursday (and later tweeted), Lysette, who plays Shea on the streamer’s landmark series, alleges that Tambor cornered her on the set of Season 2 and pressed his groin up against her body. She also recalls Tambor at one point remarking, “I want to attack you sexually.” The lewd comment was allegedly made in front of co-star Alexandra Billings, who plays Davina. These are just a couple of the “uncomfortable experiences” that Lysette detailed to The Hollywood Reporter. Excerpts from her statement read as follows:
“Despite multiple uncomfortable experiences with Jeffrey, it has been an incredible, career-solidifying honor to bring life to my character Shea on Amazon’s Transparent,” Lysette said. “Working on the award-winning series as a low-income trans woman with active roots in New York’s ball culture is a rare opportunity most of my sisters are not given.
“My hope is that Amazon can find the good in this, and use this as an opportunity, a teachable moment to re-center the other trans characters in this show with the family members instead of just pulling it,” she continued. “Let our brilliant writers continue to craft something that is entertaining and creates a social change the way they know how. Don’t let the trans community suffer for the actions of one cis male actor… I call on Amazon to make another bold affirmative move to our communities, remove the problem and let the show go on.”
In turn, Tambor issued the following response:
For the past four years, I’ve had the huge privilege — and huge responsibility — of playing Maura Pfefferman, a transgender woman, in a show that I know has had an enormous, positive impact on a community that has been too long dismissed and misunderstood. Now I find myself accused of behavior that any civilized person would condemn unreservedly. I know I haven’t always been the easiest person to work with. I can be volatile and ill-tempered, and too often I express my opinions harshly and without tact. But I have never been a predator – ever. I am deeply sorry if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being sexually aggressive or if I ever offended or hurt anyone. But the fact is, for all my flaws, I am not a predator and the idea that someone might see me in that way is more distressing than I can express.
Lysette’s claims come just one week after Tambor’s former assistant Van Barnes, who also identifies as a trans woman, accused Tambor of inappropriate behavior. That prompted Amazon to first launch an investigation. As detailed by Deadline, Barnes posted a private message to Facebook, in which she never explicitly referred to Tambor by name but accused an ex-boss of unwarranted groping and lewd comments. Barnes said the person threatened to sue her if she ever spoke out against him.
At that time, Tambor issued a statement dismissing Barnes as a “former disgruntled assistant” making “baseless” accusations. Shortly thereafter, Transparent creator Jill Soloway spoke out in support of Amazon’s investigation: “Anything that would diminish the level of respect, safety and inclusion so fundamental to our workplace is completely antithetical to our principles. We are cooperating with the investigation into this matter.”
Earlier this week it was reported that the Transparent writers room was contemplating a version of Season 5 without Tambor.
There is no word yet on how, if at all, the allegations against Tambor might impact the upcoming fifth season of Arrested Development. Netflix’s second revival of the onetime Fox comedy is currently in production ahead of a 2018 release.