For the first time since he was accused of alleged COMB (creepy old man behavior) on the set of Transparent back in November, Jeffrey Tambor is speaking, and he’s got a lot to say. Much like the statements that were released after the accusations by his former assistant Van Barnes and actress Trace Lysette, Jeffrey tells The Hollywood Reporter that the only crime he’s guilty of is acting like an entitled prick with anger issues, and that’s that.
Jeffrey first tells THR that he learned he was fired from Transparent via an email he received from show creator Jill Soloway at the gym. Ooof, getting canned with a crack full of sweat is never a great way to go. But also dealing with an alleged ass on set ain’t easy, either.
Both Van Barnes and Trace, who are both transwomen, claimed that Jeffrey sexual harassed them both verbally and physically. Van tells THR that towards the end of their working relationship, Jeffrey had propositioned her to be his mistress (Jeffrey has been married to Kasia Ostlun since 2001).
Trace complained repeatedly to higher-ups, but nothing happened. Van and Trace’s accusations launched a formal investigation. Jeffrey says he spent 10 hours speaking to the higher-ups with his lawyers present. Whatever excuses Jeffrey had clearly weren’t strong enough to keep Amazon and Transparent creator Jill Soloway from letting him go. Transparent will be back for one final season.
Here’s where it gets a little tinfoil hat-y. Jeffrey kind of implies that he had a target on his back since the first season. Some members of the LGBTQ community weren’t too crazy about seeing a straight, cis man playing a transwoman, and suggested he be replaced by an actual transwoman. Jeffrey says that as the show became more popular, so did “the elephant in the room.” When the investigation into his alleged behavior happened, Jeffrey says he received an email from Jill Soloway’s older sister Faith Soloway (a writing producer on Transparent). Jeffrey wouldn’t show THR the email, but he told them it was full of overwhelming support, and that the whole situation was “a coup.”
Jeffrey says the email felt like evidence that “something was up, over and above me. Some dots were not connecting” and that he suspected this was a way to let him go, because he was cisgendered.
Faith spoke to THR, saying that yes she sent that email, but she sent it because she felt Jill and Jeffrey were under attack. She adds that as the story broke, she sent messages of support to Van and Trace, and that she never disbelieved them.
Jeffrey will be the first to admit he’s an asshole on set, but as for acknowledging any sexual harassment that might have happened, he simply says that “lines were blurred.” He also describes his shitty behavior, like yelling to the point of making producers cry, as just being a scared actor on set.
“But I was scared, because I was a cisgender male playing Maura Pfefferman. And my whole thing was, ‘I’m I doing it right? Am I doing it right? Am I doing it right?’ To the point that I worried myself to death.”
If Jeffrey really wants to get away from the accusations of being a creep with zero respect for women’s boundaries, maybe he should have chosen better words than “lines were blurred.” Anything that harkens back to “Blurred Lines” is never a good idea.