“Transparent” actress Trace Lysette has accused actor Jeffrey Tambor of sexually harassing her on the set of the Amazon series.
Lysette’s allegations mark the second time the star, who plays Maura Pfefferman on the critically acclaimed dramedy, has been accused of sexual misconduct. Earlier this month, Tambor’s former assistant Van Barnes accused the actor of sexual harassment in a private Facebook post, according to Deadline. Tambor vehemently denied those allegations, which Amazon said it would investigate.
Lysette, who plays yoga instructor/dancer Shea on the series, told the Hollywood Reporter that Tambor said he wanted “to attack” her “sexually” ahead of shooting a memorable Season 2 scene. She also made allegations of inappropriate physical contact.
“He came in close, put his bare feet on top of mine so I could not move, leaned his body against me, and began quick, discreet thrust back and forth against my body,” Lysette told the magazine. “I felt his penis on my hip through his thin pajamas.”
An Amazon spokesman told THR that the “information will be added to our ongoing investigation.” Tambor issued a lengthy statement to the magazine in response to the allegations.
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.
The accusations against Tambor have dealt a blow to a series lauded for its progressive outlook on gender issues and representation of LGBT characters. Lysette’s character has had a particularly groundbreaking arc. In Season 3, Shea — who, like Lysette, is transgender — began a romance with Maura’s cisgender son, Josh, and disclosed that she was HIV-positive.
The fourth season of “Transparent” premiered in September. In August, Amazon announced that it had renewed the show for a fifth season. (Disclosure: Amazon founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
It’s unclear whether the recent allegations against Tambor will affect the show’s production schedule. But Lysette, in her statement to THR, urged the company not to cancel the show.
“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,” Lysette said. “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.”