EXCLUSIVE: Just more than a week after Amazon opened an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Jeffrey Tambor, the Transparent star today has been accused by a transgender actress on the acclaimed series of similar behavior. Tambor, who says he can at times be “volatile and ill-tempered,” denies the claims.
Comparable to the accusations made by Tambor’s former assistant Van Barnes, Trace Lysette alleges that the actor made lewd, sexually suggestive and unwelcomed remarks to her on a number of occasions, says a statement obtained by Deadline. Tambor is also said to have physically pressed up against Lysette in a sexually aggressive manner during a break in filming, according to the actress.
In her allegations, Lysette advocates for the Jill Soloway created Transparent and Amazon to “remove the problem and let the show go on.”
“This information will be added to the ongoing investigation,” an Amazon spokesperson said today of Lysette’s accusations. No official complaint about Tambor has been made by Lysette to Amazon, Deadline also has learned.
“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,” Tambor said Thursday. “Now I find myself accused of behavior that any civilized person would condemn unreservedly.”
He added: “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.”
Having appeared on Starz’s now-shuttered Blunt Talk and as herself on E!’s I Am Cait with Caitlyn Jenner, Lysette has been an infrequent regular on the Jill Soloway-created series since its 2014 debut. She first appeared in the Season 1 “Wedge” episode as Shea, a transgender yoga instructor and Sherpa of sorts for Tambor’s Maura and has portrayed the character in subsequent seasons.
A prominent storyline in the Season 3 episode “The Open Road” saw Lysette’s Shea engage in a budding romance with Maura’s son, music producer Josh (Jay Duplass), while on a road trip. That Soloway-directed episode had the interaction go south quick with a cascade of insults from the younger Pfefferman when ex-sex worker Shea revealed she is HIV-positive. In the September 25-released fourth season of Transparent, Lysette showed up in Episode 5, “Born Again,” as pageant-winning drag queen Celine in an ’80s flashback scene.
With its fourth season having appeared on the streaming service earlier this fall, Transparent is presently not in production. Soloway did not respond to Deadline’s request for comment on these new allegations against Tambor. When the previous allegations were over a week ago, Soloway put out a statement saying that she and the Transparent team “are cooperating with the investigation into this matter.”
Currently, in that vein, the Jeff Bezos company is speaking to members of the Transparent production following the first allegations against Tambor, which the Emmy-winning actor “adamantly and vehemently” denied at the time. Correspondingly, there also have been tentative discussions about writing the Maura character out of the show for the upcoming Season 5 in one way or another.
The allegations against Tambor come in the shadow of Amazon seeing a number of executives exit the streaming service led by studio boss Roy Price, who was first suspended indefinitely and then resigned on October 17 as details of sexual harassment allegations against him from 2015 were made public.