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Jeffrey Tambor talks Super Bowl commercial, 'Transparent' and more

Jeffrey Tambor stars in Super Bowl commercial with Patriots' Rob "Gronk" Gronkowski

"Transparent" star Jeffrey Tambor stars in a Super Bowl LI commercial with Patriots' Rob "Gronk" Gronkowski for Tide. (Credit: Tide )

Actor Jeffrey Tambor will be among the sea of famous faces appearing in Super Bowl commercials Sunday. The award-winning actor, beloved for his roles on "The Larry Sanders Show," "Arrested Development" and "Transparent," in particular, will appear alongside New England Patriots star Rob "Gronk" Gronkowski in a commercial for Tide.

Ahead of game day, we got the chance to ask Tambor, 72, about the Super Bowl, his acting career and his relationship with New York City.

How was it filming a commercial for an event that's famous as much for its ads as its sport?

I had a really good time shooting the commercial with Tide – I’ve become popular in my house again with my kids because they can tell their friends they will see me during the Super Bowl.

What was working with Rob Gronkowski like?

It was the first time I met Gronk, but he was great. We had a good on-screen relationship, which I think really shows nicely in the teaser videos.

Do you have any Super Bowl traditions?

I grew up in San Francisco as a 49ers fan, and used to go to games with my dad. I’m hoping for a good game on Sunday.

You have been involved in three shows that changed the nature of the American TV comedy — each in distinct ways. Are there any qualities you’ve noticed that Garry Shandling, Mitch Hurwitz and Jill Soloway have all shared?

What a great question. They all three are very actor-centric and about spontaneity and what happens in the moment. All three are responsible for the safest sets an actor can be on. I look for that when I do a show.

There's been a lot said about the way in which "Transparent" helps people understand gender identity. What kind of feedback have you had about the influence of "Transparent" on the trans community and its role in opening people's minds?

This is what I love about our show, there is no finger-pointing. It’s just lives lived and that’s how our show is written. . . . We’re just people, we’re all people -- and when people get that, people become more understandable and relatable.

Any plans to return to Broadway? What kind of role would bring you back?

My friend Judith Light does Broadway, and I wondered if I could come back. I love Broadway, but it’s eight shows a week. You don’t see your family, so I have to think about it.

If you could have a New York City monument named for you, which would you choose?

I wouldn’t have one named after me, but I don’t know if the Statue of Liberty has ever been more resonant than it is now.

What's your favorite neighborhood in NYC?

I lived on the Upper West Side for years so I’m an Upper West Sider. I met my wife at Cleopatra's Needle [in Central Park] and would always go up to Symphony’s Space.

You made your Broadway debut with "Sly Fox" in the 1970s. What are your memories of NYC during that time?

It was everything I wanted it to be. I had a cashmere coat from Bloomingdale’s that was $300, and it was the happiest time in my life. I remember a time when an autograph seeker asked me, “Are you anybody?” I thought about it for a while, and I said “No.” I just wrote a book called, “Are You Anybody?” It will be out May 16.

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