A second accuser has come forward alleging that Emmy-winning Transparent star Jeffrey Tambor harassed her on set. Trace Lysette, the actress who plays Shea on the acclaimed Amazon series, accused Tambor of making lewd and sexually suggestive remarks and also of pressing himself against her sexually, Deadline reported.
In the wake of the allegations, show creator Jill Soloway is trying to save it from cancellation and is open to writing Tambor out, possibly killing off his character, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The harassment Lysette endured occurred during her character’s major story arc in the show’s third season in which she embarks on a road trip with Tambor’s character Maura’s son Josh (Jay Duplass) that turns romantic and during which Shea reveals her HIV status. Lysette, who is trans, recalled that when she emerged from her trailer costume for the episode Tambor said, "My God, Trace. I want to attack you sexually,” according to the Reporter.
Costar Alexandra Billings overheard the comment, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed, and the women “laughed it off because it was so absurd,” Lysette said. But following the comment, Tambor, dressed in character, approached her between takes and pushed his penis against her.
"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 said.
Tambor responded to Lysette’s allegations in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter:
“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.”
Earlier this month, Tambor’s former assistant Van Barnes alleged in a private Facebook post that her employer had “behaved inappropriately" with her, although she did not directly name him. She said that she was forced to listen to loud porn as well as endure comments that implied "I should be sleeping with him if I want a Hollywood industry appropriate pay grade."
Her allegation prompted Amazon to open an investigation into the matter and Tambor to respond.
“I am aware that a former disgruntled assistant of mine has made a private post implying that I had acted in an improper manner toward her,” Tambor said. “I adamantly and vehemently reject and deny any and all implication and allegation that I have ever engaged in any improper behavior toward this person or any other person I have ever worked with. I am appalled and distressed by this baseless allegation.”
Earlier this week it was reported that Amazon, which is conducting an internal investigation, was considering how to write Tambor and Maura out of the series in light of the allegations, and this move appeared even more likely as of Friday afternoon. “Soloway is now said to be open to figuring out a way to plot out Tambor's main character, Maura Pfefferman,” the Reporter's latest story noted. “The creator, according to a well-placed source, is asking for the right amount of time to creatively write Maura out of the show, possibly with a death.” Amazon did not respond to the publication's request for comment. Lysette, in an earlier statement to the Reporter, called upon the studio and Soloway to the right thing.
“Don't let the trans community suffer for the actions of one cis male actor. Transparent has been a guiding light in the industry, by employing more trans people in Hollywood than any other production in history, which made it even more difficult to speak out,” Lysette wrote. “As trans-women and survivors, we have often felt we never had the power of the voice to speak out on our personal and collective pain.”