Skip to main content

The Watchman: Out of the ‘Box’ Thinking Propels ‘Transparent’

We may never understand how actors work, but the cast of Transparent offered up an interesting tidbit about how they are able to find their characters’ heart and develop a deep level of trust among each other. 

They credit The Box. 

The Box is an actual wooden box on set that cast and crew members climb upon and bare their souls. Each day starts out with a chant of “Box! Box! Box!” before someone steps up and shares. 

Box-ers can share pain or joy, or confess a conscience-busting transgression. Sessions run from a few minutes to three-quarters of an hour. Tears are frequently shed. “It turns into this collective moment for everyone to connect with before we start working,” says Amy Landecker, who plays Sarah Pfefferman. 

The Box is an extension of the inspirational talks Transparent creator Jill Soloway would often start work days with. “It’s how she gets people to do these crazy heart-opening things,” says cast member Jay Duplass. 

Signed by cast and crew, The Box even made its way onto a cruise ship with the Transparent gang after the season finale wrapped. 

Soloway is also the creator of Amazon’s I Love Dick, which has its own box too. (Is The Watchman the only one with the SNL gem “D*** in a Box” in his head right now?) Kathryn Hahn, a cast member on both series, gave the Dick box a test run recently. She mentions it bringing together cast and crew, as everyone “digs for truth together.” 

With Transparent elevating from funky little dramedy to something of a pop culture touchstone, Soloway has high expectations to meet with the new season, which starts Sept. 23. “I love the challenge of the crowded landscape,” she tells The Watchman. “It inspires me on a day when I’m shooting to say, what can I make happen in this scene that’s gonna make people go, ‘You have to see this episode.’ I’m always asking myself and our writers—what can we do that’s never been done and will change the world? That makes us show up for work every day.” 

That, and The Box. “It’s a great thing,” says Landecker. “Everyone should have a box.”