Updated Nov. 20, 2017, 7:35 a.m. PT: After being accused of sexual assault by a costar and his former assistant, Jeffrey Tambor has officially announced that he’s leaving the cast of Transparent, the show that won him two Emmy awards, after four seasons.
“Playing Maura Pfefferman on Transparent has been one of the greatest privileges and creative experiences of my life,” Tambor told Deadline in a statement. “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.”
Tambor continued, “Given the politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set, I don’t see how I can return to Transparent.”
In his statement, Tambor didn’t specify whether he was quitting or being fired. But while showrunner Jill Soloway hasn’t commented specifically on Tambor’s exit, they did have some suggestions for Hollywood in light of the avalanche of sexual misconduct complaints that have come to light in recent months.
“What if we don’t have sex with people at work?” Soloway said. “We don’t talk about sex at work, and we don’t touch people at work. Just to try it. I don’t know if it’s going to work. But you just check before you give somebody a hug.”
Honestly, it couldn’t hurt.
Let’s get one thing straight: Jeffrey Tambor’s “apology” for the sexual abuse his former assistant and co-star say they suffered at his hands is not actually an apology. It’s a gaslighting attempt to turn scrutiny on the victims, and it’s not going to work.
Last week, Tambor’s former assistant Van Barnes accused the Transparent star of sexual harassment, prompting Amazon to launch an internal investigation. Today, one of Tambor’s costars on the show, Trace Lysette, accused him of sexual harassment in claims that mirror Barnes’, as well as sexual assault.
“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,” Lysette told The Hollywood Reporter.
Tambor, who had already called Barnes “a disgruntled former employee” and described her accusations as “baseless,” released a statement in response to Lysette’s claims, and it’s bad, fam.
“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,” Tambor wrote. “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.”
First off, apologizing for the way he says his victims “misinterpreted” his behavior is not an apology at all. It’s blaming those victims for being too sensitive, too touchy, for not letting his behavior go as just something boys do. Second, the way Tambor expects leniency because he paints himself as an ally to the trans community because of his work on Transparent is so far off base. Both of Tambor’s alleged victims are trans women. Even if his work as a cishet man playing the role of a trans woman, when that role should be played by, you know, an actual trans woman — even if that work qualifies him as an automatic ally as he seems to believe (spoiler alert: it doesn’t), it does not negate these allegations.
Tambor’s attempt at an apology has only made him look worse. And considering he started out looking like a man accused of sexually assaulting a coworker, that’s not great.