After two trans women working on Amazon’s Transparent accused star Jeffrey Tambor of sexual harassment, the Emmy-winning actor is leaving the series ahead of its fifth season. Tambor, who plays transgender series lead Maura Pfefferman, has denied both allegations and cites the “politicized atmosphere” on set as the reason for his exit.
“Playing Maura Pfefferman on Transparent has been one of the greatest privileges and creative experiences of my life,” Tambor told Deadline on Sunday. “What has become clear over the past weeks, however, is that this is no longer the job I signed up for four years ago.”
Deadline first reported that Amazon was investigating Tambor on November 8 after Van Barnes, a trans woman who worked as Tambor’s personal assistant on the show, accused the actor of sexually harassing her. On Thursday, a second trans woman, Trace Lysette—who plays yoga instructor Shea in the series—accused Tambor of making lewd comments and physically harassing her before filming a Season 2 scene.
Lysette, who lived with Barnes while Barnes was working for Tambor, also corroborated Barnes’s accusations against the actor. “She would come home wrecked and stressed,” Lysette told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday. “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.”
Prior to Tambor announcing his exit, the Transparent writers’ room and showrunner Jill Soloway were reportedly working on ways to write his character out of the show. Tambor stepping away marks the second instance of a TV series writing out its lead character in the wake of recent sexual misconduct allegations in Hollywood. After Kevin Spacey was accused of multiple incidents of sexual harassment and assault, Netflix announced that the actor won’t return for the sixth and final season of House of Cards.
According to the Reporter, Soloway is considering killing off Tambor’s character, and is asking Amazon for additional time to shape a new season without its star. Lysette has suggested the series re-center its narrative around other trans characters on the show.
Transparent Season 5 is not currently in production.