In their new memoir, Jill Soloway does not spend a lot of time bashing Jeffrey Tambor, a decision the “Transparent” co-creator told Entertainment Weekly was about taking ownership of their own actions.
“It’s such a dangerous time right now. I just wanted to really reveal the places where I felt like I didn’t stand up and be the best person I should be,” Soloway said about “She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy,” released Oct. 15. “I really wanted to take responsibility for my own behavior and not be in a place where I’m going after people. Going after people can be exhilarating. It’s not enough to just be angry at men. It isn’t going to get us anywhere.
“I think men who are in power right now are really confused,” Soloway continued. “I think I understand why they’re confused because they have been living in a world that has taught them they have a right to [push boundaries]. These are all things that women knew, pre-#MeToo, that you have to put up with certain things that men do, especially men in power. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes they might throw a temper, sometimes they’re men who think they’re complimenting you when they’re telling you something about your body and they don’t really recognize that saying those things are power at play.”
But while Soloway is fulling willing to take ownership of their behavior, they are not saying what Tambor did was excusable, saying that there is a difference between inappropriate behavior and an abuse of power.
“I don’t feel responsible for Jeffrey’s behavior. He’s responsible for his behavior,” Soloway said about the actor. “I feel responsible for creating a workplace where people feel safe. I feel responsible in regards to helping [people] understand what threatening behavior means.”
Soloway continued: “I think what a lot of people don’t understand is they want to say things like, anybody can sexually harass anybody. With harassment, power is the power card. Being inappropriate is one thing that can happen at any point between any two people whether you’re in a bar, an office, on the train. People will say inappropriate things. They will ask you out when you didn’t want to be asked out. Harassment means that power is at play and I don’t think we truly understand how to talk to people with the most power. I really want to use this moment to invite men to ask themselves about scenarios they participated in that were not consensual.”
Amazon launched an investigation last November after Tambor was accused of harassment by trans actress Van Barnes, who worked as Tambor’s assistant. Shortly after, another trans actress, Trace Lysette, who had a recurring role on “Transparent,” also accusing Tambor of inappropriate behavior.
At the time, Tambor denied the accusations, saying “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.”
Tambor was later accused by makeup artist Tamara Delbridge of forcibly kissed her on the set of the 2001 film “Never Again.” At the time, Tambor said in a statement to TheWrap that he had “absolutely no recollection of anything like this incident ever happening.”
“If it did, it wasn’t meant as anything more than an enthusiastic farewell and gratitude for a job well done at the end of a shoot,” he continued. “However, I am deeply sorry for any discomfort or offense I may have inadvertently caused her.”
During that time, Tambor said he didn’t see how he could return to the Emmy-winning Amazon series.
“Playing Maura Pfefferman on ‘Transparent’ has been one of the greatest privileges and creative experiences of my life,” he said. “What has become clear over the past weeks, however, is that this is no longer the job I signed up for four years ago.”
Tambor went on: “I’ve already made clear my deep regret if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being aggressive, but the idea that I would deliberately harass anyone is simply and utterly untrue. Given the politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set, I don’t see how I can return to ‘Transparent.'”
Amazon announced in February that Tambor would not return for Season 5. “I have great respect and admiration for Van Barnes and Trace Lysette, whose courage in speaking out about their experience on ‘Transparent’ is an example of the leadership this moment in our culture requires,” said Soloway in a statement to TheWrap about Tambor’s exit at the time.
“We are grateful to the many trans people who have supported our vision for Transparent since its inception and remain heartbroken about the pain and mistrust their experience has generated in our community,” Soloway’s statement continued. “We are taking definitive action to ensure our workplace respects the safety and dignity of every individual, and are taking steps to heal as a family.”