Jeffrey Tambor Reveals How a Manicure Helped Him Find Maura

by Stacy Lambe 9:23 AM PST, December 23, 2014
Photo: Amazon

For Jeffrey Tambor, Maura is not just a character.

That’s how Tambor views the trans woman he portrays on the critically-acclaimed Amazon series, Transparent.

In fact, in order to become Maura on screen, the 70-year-old actor went through a transformative process, which included do something as simple as getting a manicure.

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Because Maura has her nails done on the show, Tambor reveals--in a behind-the-scenes interview with Audible--that he wanted the same experience off screen. “Just on my own, I went and had my nails done,” he says of his manicure, which he still had during the recording. “I just sat there and I went, ‘I love this. I really like this a lot.’”

While a manicure may seem very surface-level, Tambor explains that by keeping it, he was able to understand how people react to change. “[The crew] said, 'Do you want to take it off,' and I said, ‘No, I don’t want to take it off,’” he says. In keeping the nails, strangers would gawk--and it was experience that Tambor began to understand who Maura is. “At the beginning, I did that the whole time just to stay in her.”

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The experience paid off. In addition to Transparent’s Golden Globe nomination for Best TV Series, Comedy, the actor also garnered a nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series, Comedy.

“Mort is a character,” Tambor says of Maura’s former identity as a man. And in the course of filming the first season of the Amazon series, he connected with her more than he realized. “I don’t think I’ll ever put down Maura.”

Listen to the full audio of Tambor explaining how he signed onto the show and channeled Maura for the series.

Additional interviews with Transparent's cast and crew are now available on