Transparent’s Jeffrey Tambor on Why Playing Maura Pfefferman Is the Greatest Responsibility of His Life

Jeffrey Tambor of Transparent
Photo: Matthew Brookes

If you watched the Emmys a few weeks ago, then you undoubtedly remember Jeffrey Tambor’s rousing acceptance speech. When the Transparent star won the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, he used his short time on stage as a call to action to the entertainment world. “Please give transgendered talent a chance,” he said. "Give them auditions. Give them their story.”

While it was one of the most moving moments during the telecast, it was somewhat unsurprising to fans of Transparent that the veteran actor used his own moment to shine a light on the LGBT community. Ever since 2014, when Tambor took on the role of Maura Pfefferman, a trans woman, he’s been open about how the character has affected his outlook on his life and society as a whole.

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“Before Transparent I’ve played so many incredible characters, including on Arrested Development. I would take an eighth of the career I’ve had and still be happy,” he told InStyle at our portrait studio at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. “But [Transparent creator] Jill Soloway handed me the greatest role of my life and it has also become the greatest responsibility of my life. People who watch the show tell me about the transgender experiences that they've had themselves or with their families. They say that watching the show is like watching a documentary.”

Tambor says that one of the most telling reactions that he has seen from a fan was when he was traveling. “I was sitting on a plane and a man who was very bejeweled, pointed at me and said, ‘You—wait right there. I have something to tell you,’” Tambor recalls. “I thought, he is going to lay me out. And instead, he came right up to me, grabbed my hand, and said 'Thank you for teaching us about something we don’t know.’ And I thought to myself, well that right there is the revolution.”

Stream Season 3 of Transparent via Amazon now and watch the trailer above.

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