It’s a natural job hazard for actors to become attached to roles they take on. For Jeffrey Tambor and his male-to-female transitioning father of three, Maura, from Amazon’s upcoming Transparent, that attachment involves toenail polish and bathroom confusion.
Transparent finished shooting its first season a few weks ago, and is set to launch later this week. Tambor’s “tasteful brownish red” toes are his “secret way of still touching her…I’m afraid to put her down. I want her near.” And from the sound of it, he has good reason to have gotten attached. He and the show’s creator Jill Soloway were committed to investing fully in this character, making sure she was a real, fleshed out person, and never a caricature or a punch line.
Tambor’s preparation for Maura was immersive. Drucker and Ernst helped him get into drag and took him to a trans club. “I was so nervous about getting out of the elevator and walking through the lobby to the car,” Tambor says. “I thought, Please remember this. This is how it feels every time.” Tambor also went shopping and to lunch dressed as Maura. Once, while waiting for a plane at La Guardia, he got so caught up studying his lines that he went into the women’s bathroom. “I was thinking about Maura so much,” he says, “that MEN and WOMEN signs made no sense to me, and some woman went, ‘Sir, sir!’This dedication to taking care of the character was both out of respect for the larger trans community, as well as a personal task for Soloway, whose own father began transitioning three years ago. If you’ve seen the show’s trailer or the pilot, it’s clear that not only is George Bluth one hell of an actor, but that he loves this character like crazy.
I would wear the undergarments around the house… As cliché as it would seem, it did help. But at a certain point I had to go within and find the truth in me and make it personal. I was nervous about it. I wanted to do well for me and for Maura. It is bigger than me. I have a responsibility. It’s incumbent upon me to do Maura the best I can.
It’s about freedom, isn’t it, when you get down to it? Imagine the courage it took her to say, “I can’t do this anymore.”
can should watch the pilot now on Amazon for free, and the rest of the season is being released on Friday. So if you need me this weekend, you can find me nestled in front of my computer. …Just like every other day.