Amazon Series 'Transparent' Has a Cast Worth Raving About
Amazon may be no match yet for Netflix when it comes to online original programming, but that may chance with the premiere of their newest show, Transparent . The dramedy stars Jeffrey Tambor as Mort Pfefferman who, late in life, comes out to her wife and adult children as a transgender woman named Maura.
There's an enviable fount of talent both in front of and behind the camera. The series was created and directed by Jill Soloway, who cut her chops working on Alan Ball's acclaimed Six Feet Under for HBO and also served as showrunner for Showtime's The United States Of Tara. And the cast, including Tambor, is a veritable who's-who of terrific character actors and perennial supporting players, the kind of people who make you scratch your head and think, "Where do I know them from?" Well, wonder no longer. Here's where you know them from...
Who she plays: Syd, the best friend of Gaby Hoffmann’s Ali.
What you know her from: On all 37 episodes of IFC’s popular satirical sketch comedy Portlandia, which she acts in, writes, and produces with former SNL cast member Fred Armisen. She's also a fairly accomplished musician, to boot.
Who he plays: Josh Pfefferman, one of Maura’s three children; a chronic bachelor working in the music industry.
What you know him from: His onscreen credits are fairly limited, with his only notable role being Duncan on The Mindy Project, aka the quiet brother and fellow midwife to Mark Duplass’ insufferable Brendan. (Mark actually happens to be Jay’s younger brother in real life.)
Jay Duplass is more prolific behind-the-scenes, where he’s written, directed, and produced several well-received indie films with his brother, including Baghead, Cyrus, and Jeff, Who Lives At Home.
Who she plays: Raquel Fein.
What you know her from: She got her big break playing Lily Lebowski in 115 episodes of NBC’s Crossing Jordan, a role that creator Tim Kring (Heroes) developed specifically for her after he met her at a theater festival.
Since then, she’s appeared in a wide variety of supporting roles across both film and television. Her film credits include How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, Anchorman, and Step Brothers. She headlined her own NBC sitcom for one season in 2011, Free Agents with Hank Azaria. She has recurred on such popular shows as HBO’s Hung (as Ray’s very pregnant customer Claire), HBO’s Girls (as the mother of the girls Jessa babysits), and NBC’s Parks And Recreation (as the campaign manager to Paul Rudd’s Bobby Newport).
This is Hahn’s second project with Transparent showrunner Jill Soloway; she previously starred in the writer/director’s 2013 comedy Afternoon Delight. She can currently be seen in movie theaters in This Is Where I Leave You , alongside Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Corey Stoll, Adam Driver, and Jane Fonda.
Who she plays: Tammy Cashman, the lesbian lover of Maura’s daughter Sarah.
What you know her from: Hardin has 102 credits on her resume, which spans 38 impressive years. You probably recognize her either from USA’s crime comedy Monk, where she recurred as the titular character’s dead wife Trudy; or from NBC’s The Office, where she was a series regular in Seasons 2-5 as Jan Levinson.
Fun fact: Hardin was originally cast as Jennifer Parker, Marty McFly’s love interest in Back To The Future. But when Eric Stoltz was replaced by Michael J. Fox, she was also let go, since she was considered too tall to act next to Fox. Hardin was replaced by Claudia Wells, who was in turn replaced by Elisabeth Shue for both of the sequels.
Who she plays: Ali Pfefferman, Maura’s youngest daughter, who’s something of a wildchild.
What you know her from: Although she’s been acting since she was a child — starting in 1989’s Field Of Dreams and appearing in a string of successful ’90s films including Sleepless In Seattle, Volcano, and You Can Count On Me — you most likely remember her as Caroline Sackler, Adam’s weirdo sister on HBO’s Girls.
The role of Ali was written specifically for Hoffmann after Soloway enjoyed her work in the Season 3 premiere of FX’s Louie.
Who he plays: Len Novak, Sarah’s husband (who’s unaware of her lesbian lover).
What you know him from: The Upright Citizens Brigade grad is best known for his improv work in such cult shows as MTV’s Human Giant (in which he costarred with future Parks & Rec actor Aziz Ansari), Yahoo’s Bachelor parody Burning Love (where he played a prince named Simon), and Adult Swim’s Children’s Hospital (in which he stars as Dr. Owen Maestro).
Huebel has recently guest starred on such popular shows as The Mindy Project, Parks And Recreation, and Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. His film credits include I Love You, Man, The Descendants, and Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World.
Who she plays: Sarah Pfefferman, Maura’s eldest daughter; a stay-at-home mom who also happens to be a closeted lesbian.
What you know her from: Guest starring on every single one of your favorite shows, like Law & Order: SVU, Mad Men, Louie, NCIS, House, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Revenge, and Private Practice.
Her film credits include the Steve Carell vehicle Dan In Real Life, the Best Picture-nominated Coen Brothers dark comedy A Serious Man, and most recently Enough Said, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini in one of his last roles.
Who she plays: Shelly Pfefferman, Maura’s long-divorced ex-wife.
What you know her from: She began her career playing Karen Wolek for six years on ABC’s One Life To Live, a role for which she won two Daytime Emmy awards for Lead Actress. But her most famous role is undoubtedly as Angela Bower in all 196 episodes of ABC’s popular ’80s sitcom Who’s The Boss?
More recently, Light had a recurring role for eight seasons on Law & Order: SVU and a starring role for three seasons on Ugly Betty. Her other current screen role is on TNT’s reboot of Dallas, where she has recurred for two seasons as the villainous Judith Ryland.
Who he plays: Maura Pfefferman, the patriarch of the Pfefferman clan who shocks them all by announcing his late-blooming transition.
What you know him from: Arrested Development, obviously, where he plays both George Bluth, Sr. and his twin brother Oscar.
But Tambor has nearly 200 credits to his name. One of his very first film roles was in Norman Jewison’s 1979 film …And Justice For All, starring Al Pacino. Other movies you may have seen him in include There’s Something About Mary, Girl, Interrupted, Hellboy, and The Hangover.
Aside from Arrested Development, Tambor was also a series regular on the ’90s HBO sitcom The Larry Sanders Show, where he played the titular character’s sidekick Hank Kingsley. That show coined his popular catchphrase “Hey now,” and earned him four Emmy nominations for Supporting Actor.
He also currently recurs on CBS’s The Good Wife as Judge George Kluger, aka the one who awkwardly asked Alicia Florrick out for coffee.
Who he plays: Mark / Marcy
What you know him from: As charismatic White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman on Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing, a role which earned him three Emmy nominations (and one win). He was also one of the stars of Sorkin’s shorter-lived NBC comedy Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip where he played recovering alcoholic and executive producer Danny Tripp.
Whitford starred just last season on the hilarious (and unjustly-cancelled) ABC comedy Trophy Wife as Pete, a middle-aged lawyer juggling his new, younger wife with his two overbearing exes and his three children.
You may have seen Whitford on the big screen in a variety of roles in the likes of Adventures In Babysitting, Scent Of A Woman, Philadelphia, Kate & Leopold, and Saving Mr. Banks. He recently played the mermaid-loving Steve in Joss Whedon’s horror-satire The Cabin In The Woods.