In an unprecedented move during the #MeToo movement thus far, Jeffrey Tambor has given an extensive interview directly addressing the sexual harassment allegations made against him by two former colleagues. The Emmy winner, whom Amazon fired following an internal investigation, offered an emotional defense of himself, echoing his first statement about the matter: “I did raise my voice at times, I was moody at times, there were times when I was tactless,” he said. “But as for the other stuff, absolutely not.”
Last year, Van Barnes and Azeeda Credit Holder CH00011866 Pig' Business Card Wallet 'Sitting Card 'Sitting Holder Business CH00011866 Azeeda Pig' Credit Card Wallet Card Trace Lysette, two trans women with whom Tambor worked, accused the actor of sexual harassment. Barnes, who worked as Tambor’s assistant, alleged in a Facebook post that Tambor had made inappropriate comments toward her and patted her behind. Soon after, Lysette, a former TransparentBody Handbag Shoulder Messenger Women Bag Girls Outreo Bag Lightweight Casual Sport Cross Waterproof Red for Satchel 2 Bag Bag Side Small CxvqxAw5 co-star, accused Tambor of inappropriate comments and of pressing his body against hers. Tambor has repeatedly denied any predatory behavior on set, though as he spoke with The Hollywood Reporter, the actor admitted he could be ill-tempered. He also confirmed that he once did share living quarters with the two women—but denied any allegation of sexual misconduct.
When T.H.R. asked the actor to respond to the various specific allegations against him, including Barnes’s allegation that he once watched her sleep naked, Tambor said, “I don’t want to characterize them. What I said was that [Barnes] was a disgruntled assistant. 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’s ouster from Amazon came following an internal investigation that the actor characterized in a statement at the time as “deeply flawed and biased.” The review comprised nearly 10 hours of interviews with Tambor, spread across two sessions, with his lawyer present. (“They asked me questions, and I responded to the questions. And that’s pretty much what I want to say about that,” Tambor said.) Staffers were also asked about Tambor’s behavior, and whether the actor had ever, say, kissed them on the lips—which, T.H.R. reports, “was something he often felt comfortable enough to do in their cozy work environment.” As one high-ranking producer told T.H.R., “Everybody [who works on Transparent] behaves in a sensual manner because it’s a show about sex. Everyone says things like, ‘You’re so hot, oh my God. I had a dream about you last night.’”
Following the investigation, Tambor had expected “a slap on the wrist” for his on-set outbursts. Instead, he found out he was fired via text message from Transparent creator Jill Soloway,Credit 'Abstract Business Holder Card Azeeda Card Wallet CH00006210 Ball' wTx46KRqKZ who followed up with a phone call shortly after. Tambor had been at the gym at the time. “I don’t remember the whole conversation,” Tambor said. “But I do remember her last words were: ‘Do you need help with a statement?’ . . . If you can picture a man outside a gym for forever, in his workout shorts and everything, just staring.” (Soloway Wine Women Brown Coin Bag Cell Shoulder Pouch Purse Fashion Case JAGENIE Mini Wallet Phone Handbag Red 6UqBO as gender non-binary, and uses they/them pronouns.)
Both Tambor and his agent of 30 years, Leslie Siebert, admit that the actor can be prone to moodiness on set. As Siebert put it, “He’s guilty of being an asshole at times, and being, you know, temperamental and moody. . . . But in the 30 years I’ve worked with him, I’ve never been told about any behavior like what these women are accusing him of.” Tambor emphasized that, in part at least, his drive toward perfection in his performance exacerbated his behavior.
“I drove myself and my castmates crazy,” Tambor said. “Lines got blurred. I was difficult. I was mean. I yelled at Jill [Soloway]—she told me recently she was afraid of me. I yelled at the wonderful [executive producer] Business 'Sitting Card Azeeda Credit Card Wallet Pig' CH00011866 Holder 'Sitting Card Azeeda Business CH00011866 Wallet Card Pig' Credit Holder 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. . . . 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.”
One of the more bizarre wrinkles of Tambor’s case was the apparent back-and-forth over whether or not the actor was actually leaving the show. His exit seemed definite when he released a statement in November that said, in part, “Given the politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set, I don’t see how I can return to Transparent.” Soon after, however, the actor seemed to walk back that statement, indicating that he had no intention to leave the series. Apparently, that initial statement was prompted, at least in part, by an e-mail from Holder Business Card Wallet Credit Azeeda Card 'Sitting CH00011866 Pig' Faith Soloway, both Jill Soloway’s older sister and a writing producer on the series.
As Tambor recalls, the e-mail read: “We are in a coup. You are fucking fantastic. You have changed the world. We have changed the world. We will get through this. Love, love, love, Faith.” A source confirmed the e-mail’s contents to T.H.R, and Faith Soloway confirmed having sent it, telling T.H.R., “In the moment I felt that Jill and Jeffrey were under attack. I knew that some people disapproved of Jeffrey, a cisgender actor, playing Maura and I was upset that Jill, as the show's creator, hadn't had the opportunity to address the issue privately [before it went public]. As the story broke, I also sent messages of support to Trace and Van, and after the allegations were presented, I never disbelieved them. I still, hope everyone can learn and heal from this.”
The e-mail, Tambor said, gave him the sense that “something was up, over and above me. Some dots were not connecting.” After he released his statement about the “politicized atmosphere” on the show, Tambor recalled receiving an e-mail from Jill Soloway—which the show-runner confirms sending—which read: “They have been after Maura from the beginning.” Soloway described the message to T.H.R. as “a text I wrote in frustration after pouring my heart into this show for years. I wanted to tell a story that brought power and visibility to trans people, and to my own family’s journey into understanding, acceptance, and pride.”
Before Lysette’s accusations went public, Jill Soloway had floated the idea to Tambor of returning to the show exclusively as Mort Pfefferman, i.e. Maura pre-transition. But once Amazon concluded its review, Tambor’s fate was sealed. As Jill told T.H.R., “I was hoping, in those early days, before Trace’s initial statement came out, that it all could have been a big misinterpretation—that one person’s harassment is another person’s dirty joke.” The show-runner and Tambor have not spoken since February. Added Soloway: “Nobody said [Tambor] 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.”