'Transparent' Star Alleges Jeffrey Tambor Sexually Harassed Her, "Got Physical"
Trace Lysette, who plays yoga instructor Shea on the series, is the second accuser to allege misconduct by the show's star; Amazon says the new information "will be added to our ongoing investigation."
In the second season of Transparent, the groundbreaking Amazon series that traces one father's journey to womanhood, Maura Pfefferman — played by Jeffrey Tambor, in a role that has won him two Emmys — struggles to find the right inflection for the popular queer catchphrase, "Yas queen."
Her teacher is Shea — played by Trace Lysette — a yoga teacher and sometimes stripper, who steps in to show her fellow transgender, a newbie, the ropes.
The moment, which went viral shortly after the season debuted in November 2015, plays out as sweet, hilarious and authentic. But Lysette now says the circumstances around its filming were anything but.
According to Lysette, when she emerged from wardrobe in her costume — a salmon-colored lingerie top and matching short-shorts — Tambor remarked, "My God, Trace. I want to attack you sexually." Alexandra Billings, the third actor in the scene, was present to hear the remark, she confirms. Both "laughed it off because it was so absurd," Lysette says.
A few minutes later, while waiting for a camera setup between takes, Lysette was standing in a corner of the soundstage set. That's when she says Tambor, dressed as Maura, wearing a green satin kimono and gray wig, approached 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 says.
Lysette pushed Tambor away and "rolled my eyes." Billings was not present for this alleged incident, and several crewmembers were nearby "but they were focused on their jobs. It was discreet. If you were behind Jeffrey you might have thought he was giving me a hug."
The actress, who is transgender, is the second on the Transparent payroll to come forward with allegations that Tambor, 73, has subjected them to sexual harassment, sexual assault and generally abusive behavior on the set of the critically adored series.
The first accuser, Van Barnes, is a trans woman who worked as Tambor's personal assistant, and whose allegations have led to an internal investigation by Amazon Studios. She has previously appeared on E!'s I Am Cait.
According to Barnes' lawyer Alana Chazan, her client signed a nondisclosure agreement while working for Tambor and therefore could not comment on Lysette's claims. Nor would Barnes detail what workplace abuses she allegedly suffered at Tambor's hands — accusations which were made in a private Facebook post that had leaked and circulated within Hollywood transgender circles.