Jeffrey Tambor may not be anyone’s idea of a major star, but he’s done something truly rare among TV actors: Three classic roles, playing three wildly different characters, in three different decades. He was Hank Kingsley on The Larry Sanders Show in the 1990s, George Bluth on Arrested Development in the 2000s, and Maura Pfefferman on Transparent in the 2010s. Tambor was nominated for numerous awards in the first two parts, and won several- an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a SAG Award- for Transparent.
With Tambor recently facing a sexual harassment claim from a former assistant, Amazon is having to contemplate a similar situation as Netflix did with Kevin Spacey on its own groundbreaking streaming series: The possibility of life without its longtime, award-winning star.
Transparent's writers room is considering the possibility of moving forward for a fifth season without Jeffrey Tambor, Deadline reported Thursday. Amazon- which recently fired the president of Amazon Studios, Roy Price, following a separate sexual harassment case- is conducting an investigation into the claim against Tambor.
Tambor has been accused of propositioning, groping and making lewd comments towards his former assistant, a transgender woman, as well as threatening to retaliate if she came forward. A second accuser, also a trans woman who has appeared as an actress on the show, surfaced on Thursday, made similar claims, Deadline said. Tambor had flatly denied the first accusations, and replied to the second with a lengthy statement acknowledging that while he has sometimes been “volatile and ill-tempered,” he is not a predator.
While the investigation is ongoing, if there’s any truth to the accusations it’s likely untenable for Tambor to remain a part of Transparent. The series, based on creator Jill Soloway’s own experiences following her father’s gender transition, is very important to trans people and to telling stories about them, so it’s hard to imagine it going forward with a lead actor who has been accused, specifically, of harassing trans people.
Could the series continue without Tambor? Probably. It’s never been as much of a pure star vehicle for him as House of Cards was for Spacey, with the character’s three adult children getting just as many plots, and it’s not hard to imagine a new (final?) season dealing with the characters coping with Maura’s death. Transparent also has the advantage of only being in the writing stage of its next season, whereas House of Cards was already in production when the Spacey story hit.
Transparent’s first four seasons are streaming on Amazon.