Family & Companions
Mixing a weary vulnerability with intelligence and strength, Maura Tierney became best known to audiences for her Emmy-nominated role as nurse-turned doctor Abby Lockhart on "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009). A series regular on the cult comedy "NewsRadio" (NBC, 1995-99) for five seasons, the wry Tierney provided strong support in the films "Liar Liar" (1996) with Jim Carrey and "Forces of Nature" (1999) with Ben Affleck, as well as essayed several acclaimed stage roles. The actress made headlines in 2010 when she had to drop out of the series "Parenthood" (NBC, 2010-15) when she announced that she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Always a compelling presence, the actress was a welcome addition to any project, and fans and critics were pleased to see a healthy Tierney back on screen in legal drama "The Whole Truth" (ABC 2010-11), an arc on "The Good Wife" (CBS 2009-2016) and dark drama "The Affair" (Showtime 2014- ).
Born Maura Lynn Tierney on Feb. 3, 1965 in Boston, MA, Tierney was raised in Boston's Hyde Park district. Growing up, Tierney's father, Joe, was a lawyer and mayoral candidate who served eight terms on the Boston city council; her mother, Pat, was a real-estate agent. The eldest of three siblings, Tierney attended the all-girls Catholic Notre Dame Academy as a teenager. While studying drama at the school, Tierney made an appearance in the Boston Globe Drama Festival. Upon her graduation, she moved to New York to study drama at New York University and performed in several university plays, including "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean," "Baby With the Bathwater," "Danny and the Deep Blue Sea," "Talking With," and "Food." Tierney went on to study drama at Circle-in-the-Square Theatre School.
Upon relocating to Los Angeles, Tierney landed her first television role as one of the lead students in the Disney TV-movie, "Student Exchange" (ABC, 1987). From there, she went on to the short-lived "The Van Dyke Show" (CBS, 1988), as Barry Van Dyke's secretary. Though it was her first regular television role, the series was cancelled after only two months. After appearing in episodes of "Family Ties" (NBC, 1982-89) and "Booker" (FOX, 1989-1990), Tierney made her feature debut in "Dead Women in Lingerie" (1990). Next, Tierney portrayed Cherlyn Markowitz, the outspoken Jewish girlfriend of a young conservative African-American in the Norman Lear directed "704 Hauser Street" (CBS, 1994), another short-lived series.
Landing her first breakthrough role in 1995, Tierney was cast as ambitious overachiever Lisa Miller on the NBC sitcom "NewsRadio" (1995-99). Tierney appeared on the series, a favorite with television critics, for five seasons until its ultimate demise in 1999 after the domestic murder of cast member Phil Hartman. While working on "NewsRadio," Tierney landed supporting roles in a number of major films. In 1996 she portrayed Jim Carrey's unsatisfied ex-wife in the comedy hit, "Liar Liar." She went on to appear in "Primary Colors" (1998) and as Ben Affleck's fiancée in danger of losing him to Sandra Bullock in "Forces of Nature" (1999).
In 2000, Tierney joined the cast of the long-running NBC medical drama "ER" (1994-2009 ) as nurse Abby Lockhart. Filling the void left by Juliana Margulies' departure, Tierney quickly became the heart and soul of the show as Lockhart struggled to transition from nurse to doctor, to work the brutal hours demanded of her, and to deal with her own demons. Her performance earned her an Emmy nomination in 2001 after only a year on the series, fueled in great part by a heart-wrenching arc focusing on Lockhart and her mentally ill mother (Sally Field, in an Emmy-winning role). While starring on "ER," Tierney found time to film a twisted, American take on Lady MacBeth in the Shakespeare-inspired dark comedy "Scotland, PA" (2001), written and directed by her then-husband, Billy Morrissette. Although the movie was not a financial success, critics gave the actress excellent reviews. Tierney appeared in Christopher Nolan's "Insomnia" (2002) with Al Pacino and returned to the big screen in the underwhelming comedy "Welcome to Mooseport" (2004) opposite Gene Hackman and Ray Romano, yet again playing a wry girlfriend. In 2006, she returned to theater in Neil LaBute's off-Broadway play "Some Girls" with Eric McCormack and Fran Drescher.
She enjoyed a box office success playing Tina Fey's sister in the comedy "Baby Mama" (2008), where her character highlighted some of the joys and insanities of being a mother. After the end of "ER," Tierney recurred on "Rescue Me" (FX, 2004-11) as a mysterious woman who set the firefighters ablaze with her orchestrations, receiving rave reviews from critics as well as the show's producers. The in-demand actress was cast in a juicy role on "Parenthood" (NBC, 2010-15) and had already shot the pilot when she was forced to drop out when she announced she was battling breast cancer. Old friend and "NewsRadio" guest star Lauren Graham took over the role, and Tierney - typically brave, low-key and unflappable - made a full recovery. She eased back into acting slowly, appearing on stage while her hair grew back in after chemotherapy. Fans and critics were thrilled to hear that Tierney was returning to television, taking over for Joely Richardson in the legal drama "The Whole Truth" (ABC, 2010), but the series only lasted one season. Following a story arc on the Julianne Margolies hit "The Good Wife" (CBS 2009-2016), Tierney returned to full-time TV work as one of the stars of "The Affair" (Showtime 2014- ), winning a Golden Globe for her work in 2016. Between seasons, Tierney appeared in romance drama "Anything" (2017) and drug-addiction drama "Beautiful Boy" (2018).
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made TV debut in ABC's "Student Exchange"
Made series debut as regular in CBS' "The Van Dyke Show"
Feature debut, "Dead Women in Lingerie"
Cast as Cherlyn Markowitz on the short-lived CBS series, "704 Hauser"
Played obsessive overachiever, Lisa Miller on the NBC sitcom, "NewsRadio"
Played Jim Carrey's ex-wife in the comedy, "Liar, Liar"
Had supporting role in Mike Nichols' "Primary Colors"
Executive produced and co-starred with Adrien Brody in the film, "Oxygen"
Cast in a supporting role as Ben Affleck's fiancee in "Forces of Nature"
Joined the cast of NBC's "ER" as nurse Abby Lockhart; earned an Emmy nomination in 2001
Cast in "Scotland, Pa.," in a role written specifically for her by writer/director and then-husband Billy Morrissette
Played a supporting role in the Christopher Nolan-directed, "Insomnia"
Co-starred with Ray Romano and Gene Hackman in "Welcome to Mooseport"
Joined the cast of Neil LaBute's off-Broadway play "Some Girl(s)"
Played Tina Fey's sister in the comedy, "Baby Mama"
Co-starred with Matthew Broderick in the comedy, "Finding Amanda"
Cast to star in NBC's drama, "Parenthood," but had to drop out due to her cancer treatments; Lauren Graham replaced her
Joined the cast of "Rescue Me" (FX) as a love interest for Denis Leary's character
Co-starred with Frances McDormand in the bicoastal production of "North Atlantic"
Joined Rob Morrow for the ABC legal drama "The Whole Truth"
Co-starred with Lois Smith on the short-lived drama "Ruth & Erica"
Had the recurring role of Maddie Hayward on "The Good Wife"
Starred as Helen Solloway on "The Affair"
Starred alongside John Carroll Lynch in romantic drama "Anything"
Appeared on an episode of "Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams"
Starred alongside Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet in addiction drama "Beautiful Boy"