Last week, we reported that Transparent star Jeffrey Tambor had been accused of harassing Van Barnes, a trans woman who served for several years as his assistant. The accusation from Barnes—who alluded to “inappropriate behavior” on the actor’s part—has led to an investigation by Amazon, and rumblings that the actor might be removed from the Emmy-winning show.
That investigation will presumably intensify after today, when one of the show’s frequent guest stars, Trace Lysette, came forward with her own stories about Tambor harassing, and, on one occasion, allegedly assaulting her during her time on the set. Lysette—who’s also trans—plays Shea, a friend of Tambor’s character Maura on the show, and described an incident in which the actor forcibly rubbed his penis against her during a shoot.
The event in question happened during the filming of the show’s second season, shortly after Tambor had made a comment Lysette had laughed off as a joke, saying, “My God, Trace. I want to attack you sexually” when he saw her in wardrobe.” According to Lysette’s statement tonight to The Hollywood Reporter:
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 thrusts 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. When they called action, I put that moment in the corner into its own corner of my mind.
Lysette notes that her interactions with Tambor have frequently made her uncomfortable, describing behavior that could turn from being “lovely” to “a temper tantrum or flirtation” on a moment’s notice. She says she kept quiet about his behavior because she didn’t want to endanger her career, and expressed her hope that Amazon would find a way to continue with the series in light of the allegations. “Don’t let the trans community suffer for the actions of one cis male actor,” she wrote, noting that the Jill Soloway show has been an important step in trans representation on TV.
The streaming service has told reporters that it’s taking Lysette’s statement into consideration in its investigation. Meanwhile, Tambor—who initially dismissed Barnes’ accusations as the “baseless” words of “a former disgruntled assistant”—has now issued a more nuanced statement in response to Lysette’s allegations, while still denying that any predatory behavior took place:
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.