Amid speculation that Jeffrey Tambor would be dropped from the upcoming fifth season of Amazon’s comedy-drama Transparent in the wake of accusations of sexual harassment, the Emmy-award winning actor on Sunday announced his resignation from the series. Tambor starred in the acclaimed series as Maura Pfefferman, a retired college professor who decides to come out as a transgender to her three adult children and openly live as a woman.
“Playing Maura Pfefferman on Transparent has been one of the greatest privileges and creative experiences of my life,” Tambor said. “What has become clear over the past weeks, however, is that this is no longer the job I signed up for four years ago. I’ve already made clear my deep regret if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being aggressive, but the idea that I would deliberately harass anyone is simply and utterly untrue. Given the politicised atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set, I don’t see how I can return to Transparent.”
Tambor was first accused of inappropriate behaviour by his former assistant, Van Barnes, in a private Facebook post on November 8. On November 17, Transparent actor Trace Lysette wrote on Twitter that she too had been harassed by Tambor. Lysette accused Tambor of making several sexually inappropriate gestures and remarks at her and alleged that there was an instance of physical abuse as well. Amazon Studios had launched an investigation into the claims.
Tambor denied both allegations in earlier statements.
Tambor’s latest statement met with criticism on Twitter, with users welcoming news of him stepping down but questioning his choice of words.
After the allegations against Tambor emerged, there had been pressure on Amazon to write him out of the show. “There’s momentum on the inside to continue without Jeffrey Tambor,” a source close to the production had told Variety, while Deadline reported that the show’s writers are contemplating how they can shape up the fifth season without its lead.
Lysette too had expressed hope that Amazon would use the revelation as a “teachable moment” and to not let the transgender community pay the price for the actions of one cisgender male actor by pulling the plug on the series, which she said has employed to more transgender people than any “production in history”.
“I call on Amazon to make another bold move to our communities, remove the problem and let the show go on,” she wrote. Amazon Studios had earlier fired its director Roy Price in response to allegations of sexual harassment made by The Man in the High Castle producer Isa Hackett.
Tambor denied Lysette’s allegations in a statement last week. “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,” he said. . “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.”
Lysette’s call to let the show continue with Tambor found support from the show’s co-writer, Our Lady J, actor Omar Sharif Jr, and Orphan Black actress Tatiana Maslany, among others.
Earlier this month, award-winning actor Kevin Spacey was dropped from the final season of Netfix show House of Cards in light of allegations of sexual misconduct.