A Passionate Affair
BY BONNIE SIEGLER
We’ve known her as obsessive overachiever Lisa Miller on NewsRadio and Dr. Abby Lockhart on ER. Now, Maura Tierney is taking risks and setting new goals as the complicated Helen Solloway on the drama The Affair, which won her a Golden Globe Award this year. The 51-year-old award-winning actress battled breast cancer several years ago, but she has not let it prohibit her from accomplishing her dreams. As millions of viewers were to find out, the drama series focused on four main characters and the emotional aftermath of their lives from an extramarital affair. Frequent scenes between various sheets don’t bother the bi-coastal resident—just don’t get caught in a crowded elevator with her. “I’m definitely claustrophobic, and sometimes I’ll get on a packed elevator in a very vocal, embarrassing and dramatic way.” Everyone has their quirks.
Tierney grew up in Boston with her three siblings, where her love for art was fostered. She recalls one specific class in high school as being the catalyst for her decorated acting career. “This great teacher had us read Pride & Prejudice,” she says. “I was so taken with that book. Since then, I’ve probably read it seven or eight times. Its feminist tone and beautiful, artistic language awakened a love of art within me.” With this passion in mind, Tierney went on to attend New York University, majoring in dance and drama.
Tierney divides her life into two categories—before and after moving to Los Angeles. “I moved to LA in 1987, so that’s a big demarcation in my life coming from New York and Boston. It was a temporary move that’s turned into a 20-year stint. Career-wise, there were many turning points—getting a job on NewsRadio, getting a job on ER—and they affected my life in terms of who I was with, who I knew, where I lived, friends, all significant points in life,” she pauses for a moment. “Losing my father in 2009 was also a major event in my life. He was quite young, and it was very sad.”
OWN WORST CRITIC
After returning from Paris, where she performed with The Wooster Group, an experimental theatre company, Tierney’s life has been pulled in more directions than an ill-fitting sweater.
“Sometimes I get stressed out about the fact that I should be doing more work-wise, though I am fairly productive. It makes me anxious, because I look at an email and think I should be working on whatever it contains. I am my own worst critic when it comes to stress, because I don’t know how to cope with it exactly.”
So, what is her go-to stress solution? “Everyone loves baths, right?” she laughs. “Not me. Soaking in a hot tub makes me anxious, because I think I should be out and doing something else. All you’re doing is sitting in there thinking about what you should be doing.” Instead, Tierney turns to books and exercise for stress management. Exercise also proves to be a time for listening pleasure. “Exercising is one con ned time where I get to listen to music and move my body.” Workouts run the gamut from Pilates, running, hitting the gym, or “just living in New York, where I walk a lot.”
Regular acupuncture for at least 20 minutes a day rounds it all out. “I would love to eat healthier, as well, but that’s hard some- times when you’re busy. I think a holistic approach to well-being is the smartest thing. Life can be chaotic at times. I’m sure being happy is certainly better for just walking around in our world.”
THE LITTLE THINGS
“I’m definitely a sunset person, one hundred per cent!” she exclaims. “It’s just the way my body goes. One of my first memories growing up in Boston was having to go to bed after daylight savings, and I couldn’t understand why when it was still light out. I think I’m a night owl.” Yet, with 5 a.m. studio calls, quick morning routines consist of a good cup of coffee, walking her pug, Mack, and maybe eating an egg. “I’m not one of those people who feel you have to have breakfast. A report came out recently saying it’s okay if you don’t have breakfast. I felt very vindicated.”
As a celebrity, Tierney is not new to social media. A social media-run society means life spent in front of a camera filled with thousands of watchful eyes, critics and scrutiny, often in a negative sense. “I don’t look at it, quite frankly,” she says. “When I was on ER, I went online once. It seems you go down this rabbit hole of what everyone has to say to you. I find that very unhealthy, so I simply don’t engage. It’s too dangerous buying into everyone’s opinion. Let them have it.” VM