‘Transparent’ Star Trace Lysette Accuses Jeffrey Tambor of Sexual Harassment
Amazon was already considering a Transparent Season 5 without star Jeffrey Tambor, given recent allegations of sexual harassment, and it may now be a foregone conclusion. Star Trace Lysette not only corroborates the claims against Tambor, but adds that the actor “sexualized me with an over the top comment,” and made inappropriate contact on multiple occasions.
Lysette, who herself is transgender and has played the role of Shea since Season 1, added her own story of Tambor’s abuse over Twitter late Thursday night. In addition to corroborating earlier accusations from Tambor’s former assistant, Van Barnes (who was living with Lysette at the time), she added “Jeffrey has made many sexual advances and comments at me, but one time it got physical.” In the post, she described an incident in Season 2:
One day on set during season 2 Jeffrey, Alexandra Billings and I were all outfitted in pajamas. I was in a flimsy top and matching short shorts. Upon seeing me in my costume, Jeffrey sexualized me with an over the top comment. Alexandra and I laughed it off because it was so absurd and we thought surely it had to be a bad joke. I shook it off. Then later, in between takes, I stood in a corner on the set as the crew reset for a wide shot. My back was against the wall in a corner as Jeffrey approached me. 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. I felt his penis on my hip through his thin pajamas and I pushed him off of me. Again, I laughed it off and rolled my eyes. I had a job to do and I had to do it with Jeffrey, the lead of our show.
As he had with Van Barnes, Tambor issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter denying any predatory behavior, but at least acknowledging a temperamental history:
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.
Amazon has only confirmed that Lysette’s allegations will be “added to our ongoing conversation,” though her post also called for Transparent to “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 … Don’t let the trans community suffer for the actions of one cis male actor.” The series was previously renewed for Season 5, though production had not yet begun.
It remains to be seen if Amazon will sever ties with Tambor, a la House of Cards and Kevin Spacey, but stay tuned for the latest.
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