Jeffrey Tambor is a legendary funnyman, from “The Larry Sanders Show” to “Arrested Development.” This Super Bowl Sunday, you’ll see the Emmy award-winning "Transparent" actor do his thing opposite the New England Patriots’ Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski in a spot for Tide.
The 72-year-old actor calls in from Houston for the big game to talk about dabbing (really), his debut memoir “Are You Anybody,” and how he has no idea what "bro-ing out" is.
Excited for the game Sunday?
I am. I hope it’s a good game. My wife is coming in from New York — we live upstate. Or, I guess we’re not upstate. Albany is upstate. We’re up — about an hour and a half north of the city. Near Bedford.
What was it like hanging out with Gronk?
Oh, Gronk was great, we were just talking about how charming he was. And what a good actor he was. He was terrific. He’s like a little kid. A tall little kid. A little tall kid.
Did you bro out together?
I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I don’t think I’ve ever "bro-ed out." What does “bro out” mean? You can write about this: “Jeffrey Tambor has no idea what a bro out means.” What is a bro out? I want a definition.
We should probably ask Gronk.
Let’s move on. What’s that thing you do when you drop the mic?
A mic drop?
No, dab. Someone had to teach me about dabbing the other day. You and I have no idea what we’re talking about. I’m 70. How old are you?
See, that’s the problem.
We’re big fans of “Transparent.” What’s in store for Maura heading into Season 4?
We just had our first table read literally three days ago. It was amazing, everyone just burst into applause. I don’t know all that much, I’m not being coy — and I ask not to know, I like to be surprised. It’s going to be a great season.
Can you tell us about the challenges of playing Maura and what you’ve learned about the trans community?
I always say that Jill Soloway gave me the best role, and biggest responsibility I’ve ever had.It’s what I thought acting always was. And if I can tell by what people say when they come up to me at the grocery store or on the street — really nice things about the show, but they also talk about their lives. So, whatever we’re doing seems to be striking people on some sort of conscious and unconscious level. I think streaming is a very important movement in our culture right now. Entertainment as we know it has changed right before our eyes.
We read that you and [“Transparent” costar] Judith Light have been close friends for decades. What’s it like working with her on the show?
She’s great. She’s one of the great actresses. We’ve known each other for many years, we did theater together at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater when we were little kids. Now she plays my wife [on "Transparent']; she’s truly an artistic killer.
Her performance of Alanis Morissette's “Hand in My Pocket” in the Season 3 finale was a tour de force.
That was one of the most amazing moments I’ve ever seen. I was literally on the boat —ship? — on the ship when she sang that and I remember there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
I have this Super Bowl commercial coming up on Sunday [we laugh] and I have a book that’s coming out called“Are You Anybody.”It’s sort of a memoir, based on a member of the press who came up to me one day outside the Broadhurst Theater and said, “Are you anybody?” and I said, “No.”
Is this memoir your first time writing?
It is my first time writing. I own a bookstore [Skylight Books in L.A.], do you know that? I’ve always been a big fan of writers. This is like a life dream, because on May 16, I’ll be able to read my own book in my own bookstore.
Any favorite recent reads?
I’m reading Dave Eggers right now, I really like him. “Heroes of the Frontier.” I just got through “LaRose” [by Louise Erdrich]. I read every day; I’m a reader. I’m the little kid who has to be driven to the library.
What was it like filming “The Death of Stalin”in our current political climate?
[Director] Armando Iannucci has a great sensibility. It’s very funny, it’s very frightening, it’s very sad. It’s like one moment you’re doing “King Lear,” the next, “The Ropers.” It’s the craziest script I’ve ever seen. I love it. I would work with Iannucci anywhere, anytime.
What’s it like acting in commercials compared to the rest of your career?
Acting is acting is acting. It has the same nerve. I will tell you the good people of Proctor & Gamble treated me like the long lost child, they were very nice.
Your "Transparent" costar Kathryn Hahn also has a spot with P&G this Super Bowl.
I just saw her at the SAG Awards. That is an actress of remarkable talent. Remarkable. And her new series “I Love Dick” for Amazon is going to be great.
Is there anything you wish you’d get asked in interviews that you’d like to talk about?
Well, let’s see: the loss of hair, I’d love to talk about. My father cried when I went bald, that’s a true story. Oh, they want me to say Tide. You know, this is quite a moment. I will this Sunday be seen by close to 180 million people. That’s more than dinner theater, I can tell you that.