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Van Barnes, Jeffrey Tambor’s former assistant who accused the actor of sexual harassment and abusive behavior, revealed more details of the actor’s allegedly questionable behavior during a Wednesday appearance on Megyn Kelly Today.
While working with the Transparent star for two years, Barnes claimed that she was “always harassed” by the actor, attributing his behavior to the “power” and “misogyny” existing within the industry. “During job negotiation times, when we were getting ready for the next project, he would start making comments, about, ‘Well why haven’t we slept together?’ And it wasn’t just a one-time joke. It would be three times a week,” Barnes told Kelly.
Though Barnes admitted that Tambor’s offensive comments were frequent, she ignored them, she said, because she didn’t want to lose her job.
“I would always deflect these comments, because I might be white and blonde, but I’m actually a minority female because I’m a transgender,” Barnes said. “So breaking into the industry, it takes a lot of oomph, and not everyone is really open to having a transgender person working for them. They don’t all understand our plight,” she explained.
Despite feeling violated, Barnes revealed the moment she felt Tambor really crossed the line. While driving together for work, Barnes recalled informing the actor that she was uncomfortable with his advances, saying she wasn’t comfortable with her body. Barnes also explained that she told the actor “a hundred times” that she was married. Tambor told her he was “comfortable” with her body, saying, “Well, I’ve seen you naked,” she said.
Confused with what the actor meant, Barnes questioned Tambor, only for Tambor to reveal, according to Barnes, that he had watched her sleep when they lived together for two weeks after first starting to work together.
She said, “In the middle of the night, he watched me sleep…he said, ‘Well, you sleep with one arm over your head.’ That’s violating. It’s so creepy. This is a man I put my trust in.”
Though Tambor denied Barnes’ allegations, the actor faced an investigation after a second accuser — Trace Lysette, an actress on Transparent and former roommate of Barnes’ — came forward to claim that she too was sexually harassed by Tambor on the Transparent set. Amazon launched an internal investigation, with the actor later being fired from the series, something Barnes doesn’t think is enough of a punishment.
“Him being fired is just in a male-driven Hollywood. He brought this on himself, but they haven’t completed the whole process of helping me stand back up on my feet,” Barnes said. The former assistant said that she only came forward with her story to “identify” with others.
Transparent is expected to move on without Tambor. The Hollywood Reporter has learned that production on the Jill Soloway comedy has been scheduled to begin at the end of the year, possibly in December, making the series unlikely to air this year.
Tambor continues to deny all allegations and expressed in a statement that he was “profoundly disappointed in Amazon’s handling of these false accusations.”
“I am even more disappointed in Jill Soloway’s unfair characterization of me as someone who would ever cause harm to any of my fellow castmates,” Tambor’s statement read. He called the investigation “deeply flawed and biased toward the toxic politicized atmosphere that afflicted our set,” without elaborating further.
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