Maura Tierney

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Maura Tierney
Tierney in 2018
Maura Therese Tierney[1]

(1965-02-03) February 3, 1965 (age 59)
Alma materNew York University
Years active1987–present
Billy Morrissette
(m. 1993; div. 2006)

Maura Therese Tierney (born February 3, 1965)[2] is an American actress. She is best known for her roles as Lisa Miller on the sitcom NewsRadio (1995–1999), Abby Lockhart on the medical drama ER (1999–2009), and Helen Solloway on the mystery drama The Affair (2014–2019), the last of which won her a Golden Globe Award.

Tierney has also appeared in numerous films, including Primal Fear (1996), Liar Liar (1997), Primary Colors (1998), Forces of Nature (1999), Insomnia (2002), Baby Mama (2008), Beautiful Boy (2018), The Report (2019), and The Iron Claw (2023).

Early life[edit]

Tierney was born and raised in the Hyde Park neighborhood[3] of Boston, Massachusetts, the eldest of three children in an Irish American Catholic family.[4] Her mother Pat (née James) is a real estate broker, while her father, the late Joseph M. Tierney, was a prominent Boston politician who served on the Boston City Council for 15 years.[5]

Tierney attended Mount Alvernia Academy Elementary School and Notre Dame Academy in Hingham, Massachusetts, where she studied drama, which led to her appearance at the Boston Globe Drama Festival.[3] After graduation, she attended New York University, where she majored first in dance and then in drama.[6]


After appearing in several plays, Tierney moved to Los Angeles in 1987, earning her big break with a role in Disney's made-for-TV film Student Exchange.[7] Tierney's first starring role in a film was in a low-budget independent film called Dead Women in Lingerie, which was shot in 24 days.[8]

Tierney had a number of small roles in film and television and a co-starring role in 704 Hauser, a short-lived 1994 spin-off of All in the Family. She first received regular national exposure with her leading role in the sitcom NewsRadio from 1995 to 1999. While part of the NewsRadio cast, she also starred in several successful films of the late 1990s and early 2000s such as Primal Fear, Liar Liar, Primary Colors, Forces of Nature and Welcome to Mooseport.

After NewsRadio was canceled, Tierney decided not to star in another sitcom:

[W]hen NewsRadio got canceled, (...) I thought, there's probably not gonna be something like [that show] again for me... So then, when ER called (...) that was a way to stay in [television] that would remain interesting for me.[9]

From 1999 to 2008, Tierney played Nurse Abigail "Abby" Lockhart on ER, a character that began as a guest appearance in November 1999 and then expanded in February 2000 to a full-time regular role as an ER nurse and later after completion of medical school, a doctor. She was reunited with her NewsRadio co-star Khandi Alexander, who at that time also had a recurring role on ER. Within a year, Tierney's work on ER earned her an Emmy Award nomination, a recognition she credits to a "juicy" story arc featuring Sally Field as Lockhart's mother Maggie Wyczenski, who has bipolar disorder.[7]

Tierney confirmed in April 2008 that she would be leaving ER shortly after the beginning of the show's fifteenth season. In October 2008, she made her final regular appearance on the series after nearly 10 seasons on the show. She returned to make a cameo appearance in one additional episode later in 2009 toward the end of the final season.

Tierney's highest-profile film while being part of the ER cast was the 2002 film Insomnia, which was directed by Christopher Nolan. That same year, she also starred in Scotland, Pa. where she portrayed a Lady Macbeth-like character written specifically for her by Billy Morrissette, her husband at the time. She was praised by critics for her performance. She also collaborated with NewsRadio writer Joe Furey for a special "Working with Joe Furey" featurette for Furey's film Love and Support.

In 2004, Tierney won the second-season tournament of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown against Lauren Graham, who had a guest role in the fourth season of NewsRadio. Tierney returned to the stage in May 2006 in an appearance opposite Eric McCormack in the Off Broadway premiere of Some Girl(s).[10] She also appeared in the 2008 films Semi-Pro, Baby Mama, The Go-Getter and Finding Amanda. Tierney also played the role of Laurel in the Off Broadway play Three Changes with Dylan McDermott[11] from September 16 to October 4, 2008.

Tierney returned to television, playing the recurring character Kelly McPhee on the FX series Rescue Me in 2009 and 2011 during its final season. She replaced Joely Richardson as the female lead of the 2010 ABC television series The Whole Truth after Richardson left to spend more time with her family.[12] Tierney's role in the show, a legal drama produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, marked her return to television after recovering from breast surgery and cancer treatments.[13] ABC canceled The Whole Truth after four episodes owing to low ratings.[14]

Tierney in 2019

In 2010, Tierney became a member of the New York City-based experimental theatre company The Wooster Group.[15] She performed along with Frances McDormand in the Wooster Group's 2010 remounting of North Atlantic, directed by Elizabeth LeCompte. From 2016 to 2019, she played the feminist Germaine Greer in The Town Hall Affair, also directed by LeCompte. Tierney herself conceived the idea for this play, which recreates a raucous debate on Women's Liberation that Norman Mailer organized with prominent feminists in 1971.[16]

In February 2011, Tierney made her debut at the Gate Theatre in the Dublin premiere of Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage (translation by Christopher Hampton) alongside Ardal O'Hanlon.[17] Also in 2011, Tierney appeared in one episode of The Office (S8E9: "Mrs. California") as Robert California's wife.

In September 2012, Tierney began a recurring role on the CBS legal drama The Good Wife, playing Maddie Hayward.[18] The role included scenes with the show's lead character Alicia Florrick, as played by Julianna Margulies; the two actors had previously worked together on ER, Margulies like Tierney having previously played a lead character on that show.[19] In 2013, Tierney joined the cast of Showtime's The Affair,[20] playing Helen Solloway, for which she won the Golden Globe Award in 2016.[21]

In 2018, Tierney co-starred with Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet in the dark family drama film Beautiful Boy, based on the memoir of the same name by David Sheff.[22] In 2019, Tierney appeared in The Report as "an intense, driven, somewhat vengeful Counterterrorism expert determined to get behind any program that promises to get the intel that will stop another attack from happening."[23]

In 2019, Tierney originated the lead role of Elizabeth in the West Coast premiere of Jen Silverman's play Witch at the Geffen Playhouse, directed by Marti Lyons.[24]

In March 2020, Tierney joined the cast of Showtime's American Rust.[25]

In October 2020, Tierney joined the cast of Showtime's Your Honor.[26]

In 2023, she joined the cast of Lee Isaac Chung's Twisters, a sequel to the 1996 film Twister.[27]

Personal life[edit]

In 1992, Tierney met actor-director Billy Morrissette,[28][29][30] on the first day he arrived in Los Angeles,[31] at the revolving lounge[32] of the Hollywood Holiday Inn, and they married on February 1, 1993.[33] Morrissette directed, and both he and Tierney appear in, the 2001 film Scotland, PA.[34] She filed for divorce in 2006 due to irreconcilable differences.[citation needed]

On February 1, 2009, Tierney officiated at the wedding of her friend and former ER co-star Parminder Nagra to photographer James Stenson.[35]

Tierney had surgery to remove a tumor from her breast in 2009.[36] She had been cast in Parenthood but schedule conflicts with her cancer treatments led her to leave and she was replaced by Lauren Graham.[37] Tierney finished treatment and returned to work in a stage play in 2010.[38]



Year Title Role Notes
1991 Dead Women in Lingerie Molly Field
The Linguini Incident Cecelia
1992 White Sands Noreen
Fly by Night [fr] Denise
1993 The Temp Sharon Derns
1995 Mercy Simonet
1996 Primal Fear Naomi Chance
1997 Liar Liar Audrey Reede
Broadway Brawler Unfinished film
1998 Primary Colors Daisy Green
The Thin Pink Line Suzanne
1999 Forces of Nature Bridget Cahill
Oxygen Det. Madeline Foster
Instinct Lynn Powell
2000 Mexico City Pam on Phone (voice)
2001 Scotland, PA Pat McBeth Also producer
2002 Insomnia Rachel Clement
Rooftop Kisses Denise Short film
The Nazi Helen Short film
2003 Melvin Goes to Dinner Leslie
2004 Welcome to Mooseport Sally Mannis
2006 Danny Roane: First Time Director Herself
Diggers Gina
2007 The Go-Getter Hal's Pets
2008 Semi-Pro Lynn
Baby Mama Caroline
Finding Amanda Lorraine Mendon
2012 Nature Calls Janine
2017 Anything Laurette Sachman
2018 Beautiful Boy Karen
2019 The Report Bernadette
2023 The Iron Claw Doris Von Erich
2024 Twisters Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1987 Student Exchange Kathy Maltby Television film
1988 Crossing the Mob Michelle Television film
The Van Dyke Show Jillian Ryan 10 episodes
1989 Family Ties Darlene Episode: "My Best Friend's Girl"
1990 Booker Donna Cofax Episode: "Reunion"
Flying Blind Donna Television film
1991 Law & Order Patricia 'Patti' Blaine Episode: "Aria"
1994 Lifestories: Families in Crisis Episode: "A Body to Die For: The Aaron Henry Story"
704 Hauser Cherlyn Markowitz Television miniseries
Out of Darkness Meg Television film
1995–1999 NewsRadio Lisa Miller 97 episodes
1999–2009 ER Dr. Abby Lockhart 189 episodes
2000 King of the Hill Tanya (voice) Episode: "Movin' On Up"
Sammy Kathy Kelly (voice) 9 episodes
2009 Parenthood Sarah Braverman Unaired Television pilot; replaced by Lauren Graham
2009–2011 Rescue Me Kelly McPhee 9 episodes
2010–2011 The Whole Truth Kathryn Peale 13 episodes
2011 The Office Susan California Episode: "Mrs. California"
2012–2013 The Good Wife Maddie Hayward 7 episodes
2012 Ruth & Erica Erica 10 episodes
2014–2019 The Affair Helen Solloway 53 episodes
2018 Electric Dreams Irene Lee Episode: "Safe & Sound"
2021 Your Honor Fiona McKee 4 episodes
2021–present American Rust Grace Poe 19 episodes


Year Title Role Venue
2006 Some Girl(s) Bobbi Lucille Lortel Theatre
An Oak Tree Father (replacement) Barrow Street Theatre
2008 Three Changes Laurel Playwrights Horizons
2013 Lucky Guy Alice McAlary Broadhurst Theatre

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Supporting Actress - Comedy/Romance Forces of Nature Nominated [39]
2001 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series ER Nominated [40]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nominated [41]
2003 Satellite Awards Best Actress in a Series, Drama Nominated [42]
Phoenix Film Festival Best Ensemble Acting Melvin Goes to Dinner Won [43]
Prism Awards Performance in a Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline ER Nominated [44]
2007 Prism Awards Performance in a Drama Series Episode Nominated [44]
2008 Prism Awards Performance in a Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline Nominated [44]
2016 Golden Globe Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television The Affair Won [45]
Critics' Choice Awards Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nominated [46]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nominated [47]
Critics' Choice Awards Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nominated [48]
2017 Satellite Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television Nominated [49]
2019 Gracie Awards Actress in a Supporting Role - Drama Won [50]


  1. ^ "Maura Tierney". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 24, 2022.
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  3. ^ a b Wieder, Tamara (February 14, 2002). "Prescription for success". Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  4. ^ "The Return of Maura Tierney". Parade. September 12, 2010. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
  5. ^ "Joseph Tierney Obituary". Hyde Park, Massachusetts: Carroll-Thomas Funeral Home. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  6. ^ Tierney, Maura (September 9, 2008). "Trying to quit smoking is the hardest thing I've ever done". Glamour. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Dream Life". BRNTWD Magazine. September 2001.
  8. ^ "Interview with Erica Fox". Exclusive magazine. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  9. ^ Maura Tierney, original air date November 14, 2006, interviewed on The Tavis Smiley Show
  10. ^ Hernandez, Ernio (March 9, 2006). ""ER" Star Tierney Becomes One of LaBute's Some Girl(s) for US Debut". Playbill. Archived from the original on March 22, 2006.
  11. ^ Cox, Gordon (June 5, 2008). "Playwrights Horizons signs stars". Variety.
  12. ^ Reiher, Andrea (June 11, 2010). "Maura Tierney to tell "The Whole Truth: with Rob Morrow at ABC". Zap2it. Archived from the original on October 3, 2012. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  13. ^ "Maura Tierney New Role: Legal Drama 'The Whole Truth". National Ledger. June 16, 2010. Archived from the original on June 19, 2010. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
  14. ^ "ABC cancels 'The Whole Truth'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  15. ^ "Magazine — The Wooster Group: Getting Down to the Confrontation - Hauser & Wirth". Retrieved August 2, 2020.
  16. ^ Teeman, Tim (February 2, 2017). "How Elizabeth LeCompte and the Wooster Group Changed Theater". The Daily Beast. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
  17. ^ "Gate Theatre, Dublin, Ireland". Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  18. ^ Hibberd, James (June 25, 2012). "Maura Tierney joins 'The Good Wife'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  19. ^ Harnick, Chris (October 7, 2012). "'The Good Wife' Recap: Maura Tierney Steals The Show In 'And The Law Won'". HuffPost. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  20. ^ "The Return Of Maura Tierney". The Huffington Post. August 4, 2013.
  21. ^ Mitovich, Matt Webb (January 10, 2016). "Golden Globes: Mr. Robot and Mozart Win Big; Taraji P. Henson, Lady Gaga, Jon Hamm, Rachel Bloom Grab Gold". TVLine. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  22. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (March 16, 2017). "'The Affair's Maura Tierney Joins Amazon's 'Beautiful Boy'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  23. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (June 18, 2018). "Maura Tierney Joins CIA Drama 'The Torture Report'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  24. ^ Meyer, Dan (August 29, 2019). "Witch, Starring Maura Tierney, Begins at Geffen Playhouse". Playbill. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
  25. ^ "'The Affair' Star Maura Tierney Returns to Showtime for Jeff Daniels 'Rust' Drama". Variety. March 5, 2020.
  26. ^ "Maura Tierney To Recur On Showtime's Bryan Cranston Limited Legal Drama 'Your Honor'". Deadline Hollywood. October 21, 2020.
  27. ^ Grobar, Matt (May 17, 2023). "Twisters: Maura Tierney, Sasha Lane, Kiernan Shipka & David Corenswet Among Final Additions To Lee Isaac Chung's Disaster Pic For Uni, Amblin And Warner Bros". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 17, 2023.
  28. ^ Morrissette, Billy (2000). Scotland, PA: Original Screenplay. Retrieved February 25, 2023.
  29. ^ "Billy Morrissette". AllMovie. Retrieved February 25, 2023.
  30. ^ "Billy Morrissette". tcmdb. Retrieved February 25, 2023.
  31. ^ Holmes, Emory (February 3, 2002). "Toil and Trouble With Fries on the Side". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 25, 2023.
  32. ^ "Holiday Inn Hollywood Los Angeles California". eBay. Archived from the original on February 25, 2023. Retrieved February 25, 2023.
  33. ^ Finn, Natalie (July 27, 2006). "Maura Tierney's Marriage Flatlines". E!. Retrieved October 9, 2007.
  34. ^ Weiner, Glenn (February 4, 2002). "Maura Tierney and director Billy Morrissette both star in the new film Scotland PA held at the GCC Galaxy theater in Hollywood California - Image 19857_0114". MPTV Images. Retrieved February 25, 2023.
  35. ^ "OK! Exclusive: Parminder Nagra's Wedding Album". OK! Magazine. January 23, 2009. Archived from the original on October 3, 2011. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  36. ^ "Maura Tierney To Undergo Surgery For Breast Tumor". Access Online. July 13, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
  37. ^ Abrams, Natalie. "Gilmore Girls' Lauren Graham Takes Starring Role in Parenthood",, October 9, 2009.
  38. ^ Armstrong, Jennifer (January 27, 2010). "Maura Tierney goes back to work after battling cancer". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
  39. ^ "Nominees Announced for 'Sixth Annual Blockbuster Entertainment Awards(R)' To Air in June on FOX". Blockbuster Pressroom (Press release). Blockbuster LLC. February 8, 2000. Archived from the original on June 15, 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2024.
  40. ^ "The 7th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". Screen Actors Guild Awards. Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  41. ^ "Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series Nominees / Winners 2001 Emmy Awards". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  42. ^ "2002 6th Annual SATELLITE Awards". International Press Academy. Archived from the original on November 11, 2011. Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  43. ^ "Awards". Phoenix Film Festival. Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  44. ^ a b c "PRISM Awards >> Winners & Nominees". Prism Awards. Archived from the original on March 16, 2009. Retrieved January 31, 2024.
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