A little more than a week after Jeffrey Tambor’s former assistant accused him of sexual harassment, Transparent actress Trace Lysette has come forward claiming the Emmy winner made unwanted sexual advances that became physical.
Lysette, a trans woman who plays yoga instructor Shea on the Amazon series, tweeted a lengthy statement Thursday night recounting her experiences with Tambor, 73.
— Trace Lysette (@tracelysette) November 17, 2017
“Sadly, I must add my voice to the chorus. Jeffrey has acted inappropriate to me too,” Lysette told The Hollywood Reporter the same day. “Jeffrey has made many sexual advances and comments at me, but one time it got physical.”
According to Lysette, when she emerged from wardrobe in a skimpy outfit one day, Tambor remarked, “My God, Trace. I want to attack you sexually.” Co-star Alexandra Billings, who was present at the time, confirms the remark was made. Both “laughed it off, Lysette says, “because it was so absurd.”
But a few minutes later, between takes, Lysette says Tambor, dressed as Maura Pfefferman, approached her in the corner of the soundstage. “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 says.
Lysette pushed Tambor away and just rolled her eyes. His actions, she says, were “discreet.” “If you were behind Jeffrey you might have thought he was giving me a hug.”
On November 8, another trans woman, Van Barnes, accused Tambor of inappropriate behavior in a private Facebook post that eventually led to Amazon launching an internal investigation.
Barnes, who also appeared on E!’s I Am Cait,, reportedly did not name Tambor but said an employer told her, “I should be sleeping with him if I want a Hollywood industry appropriate pay grade.” She added that he also patted her butt, played pornography at loud volumes, and told her she “was useless, could do nothing right.”
Lysette, who shared a house with Barnes while Barnes was Tambor’s assistant, remembers seeing her friend distressed. “She would pick him up in the morning and bring him home at night and everything in between. She would come home wrecked and stressed. I saw him break her down. She for the most part kept it to herself. She was just like, ’Girl, he is a piece of work. If you only knew what I’m going through.’ But I knew.”
For Lysette, her relationship with Tambor evolved slowly, making it hard to see where the line was at first. THR reports:
She describes a moment in her first season on the show, a scene set in a yoga studio, when she had trouble finding her mark. “Jeffrey stepped in and said, ’Come on, that’s hard. I couldn’t even do that.’ And then he and the [director of photography] had a little back and forth. He was sticking up for me.”
When the exchange was over, Tambor approached Lysette and “kissed me on the forehead and was like, ’Are you good?’ I said, ’Yeah, I’m fine.’ It started with things like that. Telling me I looked great, things like that.”
Then as her career began to take off, she would see Tambor on red carpet events. “I would go to hug him and kiss him on the cheek — and it would land on my lips. And I was like, ’Okay. What was that about?'”
It wasn’t until the incident on the soundstage, while they were filming the iconic “Yas, Queen!” scene,” that she was sure he was crossing the line. She describes working with him as “a roller coaster.” “One minute Jeffrey is lovely, the next it’s a temper tantrum or flirtation.”
In a statement to THR, Tambor denied Lysette’s allegations:
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.
Reports surfaced Amazon was considering writing a fifth season of Transparent without Tambor in light of Barnes’ allegations. How Lysette’s claims will affect that decision is unclear.
In her tweet, Lysette said she hoped Amazon “can find the good in this,” and “re-center the other trans characters in this show with the family members instead of just pulling [the show.] Let our brilliant writers continue to craft something that is entertaining and creates a social change the way they know how. Don’t let the trans community suffer for the actions of one cis male actor.