You know that thing where you're trying to do the crossword puzzle, and you're trying to fit the word that's in your head in the puzzle, and then you go 'Ugh!' and you walk away, and then it comes to you. I'm interested in that moment. The release of expectation, and the release of pleasing yourself and pleasing anybody. Breaking the mindset.
What's interesting about playing Maura is that I get to use more of Jeffrey that I've ever used in any role, and I think that's the remarkable part about it and truly the most surprising part about doing this role.
I can't say enough about the guts and the talents of Amazon. They're so agile, they're so nimble; they picked us up two weeks after we premiered, and their whole attitude is, 'Go, go, go, go,' so I'm very, very impressed.
The first time I met Garry Shandling was my audition for 'The Larry Sanders Show,' with Garry and his casting director Francine Maisler. I can recall every minute of it. He was gracious and kind, and he read with me. He was terrific.
I worked at The Old Globe Theater under the great baton of Craig Noel. One of the great theater heroes that we have. He was so great and so inspirational. I think I did 'Antony and Cleopatra' and 'The Taming of the Shrew'. I lived in Ocean Beach, and my rent was $140 a month.
I think I made $55 a week, and it was bliss... I was doing theater. It was all I ever wanted to do. It was so much fun, and you got paid for it, and you met people, and it's the greatest education in the world. And in my little Greenbrier station wagon, I felt very much like a troubadour.
It was the '50s, and the card catalog and the Dewey Decimal System were in fashion. I hung out in the 812 section - American theater and plays. This is where I first read Arthur Miller's 'Death of a Salesman' and was transfixed. I remember staring into space for what seemed an eternity after reading Linda Loman's final speech.
I think of everything as comedy, but I don't think of it in terms of sitcom comedy, I think of it in terms of Chekhov comedy. Chekhov called his plays comedies. There's always a mixture of a laugh with sadness. So the plie to the laugh is sadness.
I think I have femininity, I have masculinity, but I get to use all of Jeffrey, and that's very powerful. And this is what I always thought when I went down in my little basement in San Francisco, where I grew up, and daydreamed about being an actor: It felt like this. This is what it felt like.
I don't take off my nail polish when I go home because I'm too lazy, and they're fine with it. Maybe the checkout at the grocery store's not so great with it, but they're fine with it. The distrust, the phobias, those are learned, those are taught. But the natural grace is to understand and to love.
My education was doing good plays and also stinkers. When you do a stinker, you learn how to act. I like having to audition. It's nice to do rehearsals. But it's with an audience that you get to love it!
'Dad, Dad, I'm getting married.' 'Sh-sh, don't say it. Nothing, nothing. Don't do anything.' So he honestly - 'cause he was taught don't celebrate - they'll take it away from you. And his parents were taught that, and his parents and parents' parents. Because if you did celebrate, and you were visible, it could be very, very dangerous.
I was a young actor who was bald, but at that time, there was a thing on television that - there was a prototype or a stereotype of a principal who was bald and mean with glasses, or there was... the angry boss who was bald.
The Tambors were conservative Jews, and we attended Temple Beth Shalom at 14th Avenue and Clement Street in San Francisco. We were the only Jewish family for miles. To me, being Jewish meant 'otherness.'
There are times between five and seven when this house is like a bowling alley, but it's reinspired me. My acting has gotten better because of these kids. I feel the same spirit I did when I was doing Off-Broadway.
When I was a young boy in San Francisco, I remember being sent home from playing with a friend, and I remember the mother saying, 'Tell Jeffrey to go home.' And I said to the girl, 'Why?' She goes, 'My mother says that you're the people who killed Christ.'
The real road, to me, was within the actor, within myself, within my own personality. How much Jeffrey can I find, and how much of Jeffrey could I access? What parts of Jeffrey have I never used for Hank or for George or Oscar? - and that was a delight.
I'm a Jewish son of Russian-Hungarian heritage parents. Humor was very important. My whole goal was to make my parents laugh. And my whole strategy as a young man was, if I could make them laugh, I could have enough time to figure out what to do next.