TV

EXCLUSIVE: Caitlyn Jenner and Jill Soloway on How the ‘Transparent’ Cameo Came Together

by Stacy Lambe 7:05 AM PDT, September 22, 2016
Photo: Getty Images

When Transparent returns to Amazon for its third season on Friday, Sept. 23, Caitlyn Jenner will make her highly anticipated debut on the show.

Playing herself, which ET first reported back in July, Jenner appears in a dream sequence during a game of Wheel of Fortune. The moment is trippy, fun and a way for Jenner to make a cameo “with a lot of humor,” creator Jill Soloway tells ET, “and invite a lot people to enjoy the confluence rather than question whether or not it's realistic.”

While the Emmy-winning series first premiered in 2014 ahead of Caitlyn Jenner’s transition and coming out as a transgender woman, the two have become intrinsically linked as the show tells the story of Maura Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor), a family patriarch, who comes out as a transgender woman to her ex-wife and three kids. The show itself is loosely based on Soloway’s family, but the similarities between TV and reality were uncanny.

MORE: 'Transparent' Breakout Hari Nef Takes Control of Her Story One Instagram at a Time

“It’s like the Pfeffermans have evolved with the Jenners and the Kardashians,” Jay Duplass, who plays Josh Pfefferman, says. “It's been a weird symbiotic thing. Caitlyn has told us directly that watching Transparent with her family helped figure out the transition. They were able to watch together and to laugh and talk about the real stuff going on there.”

“I had a beautiful phone call from Caitlyn after the first season, letting me know how much the show helped her and her family,” Soloway says of the relationship that has formed between her and Jenner, which now includes regular texting. “As a huge Kardashians fan, that's potentially a high point moment in my life. I'm imagining Khloe Kardashian watching what I've written. I could die.”

Ultimately, “it wasn’t a question of if,” she adds. “We knew we were going to do it.” 

“I had met a lot of the cast members before,” Jenner says, “and to finally get a chance to work with them was so special.”

When it came to playing herself onscreen, “it was so simple really,” she says. “My lines were already written! Doing reality TV, we have no script -- and it was great to work with such talented actors.”

While Gaby Hoffmann (Ali Pfefferman) is the only member of the cast to share screen time with Jenner, Duplass says, “It was fun to have her on set.” Kathryn Hahn, who plays Raquel Fein, met Jenner briefly, and commended her easy-going nature. “She was a gamer, which I always appreciate,” she says.

MORE: Mya Taylor Opens Up About 'Supportive' Relationship With Caitlyn Jenner

Admittedly, the casting news did draw some ire among fans, who worried about Jenner’s sometimes polarizing presence on the show. But Duplass was quick to reassure them. “All I can say is that once they see it, they'll be really pleased because it makes a lot of sense the way that it happens.”

But perhaps Judith Light (Shelly Pfefferman) put it best: “She's herself. What could be more perfect?”

As for season three, “I will definitely be watching,” Jenner says, “and hopefully my kids will as well. Transparent has really brought this issue forward. It's a subject that affects so many families around the world. It is so great to keep this conversation moving in the right direction. Nobody does it better than Transparent in such an entertaining and thoughtful way.”

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