Jeffrey Tambor opens up on sexual harassment allegations, Transparent firing
Almost three months after his dismissal from Transparent, Jeffrey Tambor is opening up on his exit and the sexual harassment allegations against him.
On Monday, the same day that the trailer was released for season 5 of Arrested Development (which Tambor will be a part of), The Hollywood Reporter spoke to the 73-year-old actor, who has been accused of sexual harassment by Transparent guest star Trace Lysette and former assistant Van Barnes, both of whom were also interviewed by THR.
Saying this was the first and “possibly the last time” he’d discuss the matter, Tambor, who won two Emmys for his work on the Amazon series as transgender matriarch Maura Pfefferman, revealed his surprise upon learning that he had been fired. He was expecting only “a slap on the wrist,” but he received a text on Feb. 15 from creator Jill Soloway notifying him that he would not be returning. This was especially shocking to the actor considering the support he had received from Soloway, who had told him, “They have been after Maura from the beginning,” and her sister and the show’s writing producer Faith Soloway, who had declared it “a coup.” Tambor said that after the allegations came out, he had discussions with Soloway about still appearing on Transparent via flashback as pre-transition Maura.
But those plans would not come to fruition after the claims against Tambor prompted Amazon to launch an investigation, which he has previously called “deeply flawed and biased.” Tambor declined to detail the sit-down with investigators, telling THR only that his interview lasted nearly 10 hours over two days and involved his lawyers.
“I don’t want to characterize them,” he said of his accusers. “What I said was that she was a disgruntled assistant [referring to Barnes]. I think that was generous of me. I dispute her account. I did raise my voice at times, I was moody at times, there were times when I was tactless. But as for the other stuff, absolutely not.”
Tambor admitted to often being volatile on set, referencing one “blow-up” with Arrested Development costar Jessica Walter (a rep for Walter told THR, “Jessica does not wish to talk about Jeffrey Tambor”).
“I drove myself and my castmates crazy,” he said of his time on Transparent. “Lines got blurred. I was difficult. I was mean. I yelled at Jill — she told me recently she was afraid of me. I yelled at the wonderful [executive producer] Bridget Bedard in front of everybody. I made her cry. And I apologized and everything, but still, I yelled at her. The assistant directors. I was rude to my assistant. I was moody. Sometimes I didn’t talk at all. And this is where the reader says, ‘So what?’ You know? ‘You’re coming in from the Palisades, you drive in, you get a good paycheck, you get to play one of the best roles in the world. So. What.’ But I was scared, because I was a cisgender male playing Maura Pfefferman. And my whole thing was, ‘Am I doing it right? Am I doing it right? Am I doing it right?’ To the point that I worried myself to death.”
Soloway, who said she tried to get Tambor to apologize, admitted to THR that she had originally hoped that it had all been “a big misinterpretation — that one person’s harassment is another person’s dirty joke.” The creator adds that the allegations against Tambor are “not a simple case of did he do it or didn’t he do it. Nobody said he was a predator — they said he sexually harassed people. He made enemies, and I don’t think he realized he was making enemies. You have to be very, very careful if you’re a person in power and treat people very appropriately.”
For his part, Tambor says he’s already learned to change his behavior on set. “You know what I do feel?” he says. “More present. Everything’s just clearer to me.”
Read THR‘s full story here.