Maura Tierney Biography

Actress (1965–)
Maura Tierney is an American actress best known for her television roles as Dr. Abby Lockhart in 'ER' and Helen Solloway in 'The Affair.'

Who Is Maura Tierney?

Born in 1965 in Boston, Massachusetts, Maura Tierney landed her first major acting gig on the NBC sitcom NewsRadio (1995-1999). From there she earned roles in '90s films like Primary Colors and Liar Liar before landing her next major television role as Abby Lockhart on NBC's medical drama ER in 1999. She continued adding to her film credits, appearing in films like Insomnia (2002) and Baby Mama (2008), as well as doing stage work before she took a much needed break after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. In 2014 Tierney made a big comeback, starring as the maligned wife Helen Solloway in Showtime's The Affair

Maura Tierney Photo

Maura Tierney attends the Build Series at Build Studio on May 2, 2018 in New York City. 

Movies and TV Shows

'NewsRadio,' 'Liar Liar'

Tierney started her acting career by moving to Los Angeles in the late 80s. Her big break came when she landed a starring role in the NBC sitcom NewsRadio as overachieving Lisa Miller in 1995. Throughout her time on the show, which also starred the likes of Andy Dick and Phil Hartman, Tierney made time to appear in a wide range of popular films like the suspense-filled Primal Fear (1996) with Richard Gere, the political dramedy Primary Colors (1998) with John Travolta and Emma Thompson, and the comedic box office hit Liar Liar with Jim Carrey. In Liar Liar, Tierney plays the ex-wife of Carrey's character who has an inability to tell the truth. 


Although NewsRadio got canceled in 1999, Tierney's television career received a huge boost that year when was asked to join as a guest actor on NBC's hit medical drama ER. Within a year, she became part of the regular cast as nurse (then later as doctor) Abby Lockhart and received an Emmy nomination for her performance. She would continue in her role through 2008 and made a cameo appearance for one of the final season's episodes in 2009.

"I liked what they did with me at the end," Tierney said of her character Abby on her farewell season on ER. "I’d originally wanted them to kill me off, but in the last season they wrote this really amazing arc for me, where Abby gets involved with Goran Visnjic’s character, and then I accidentally get pregnant, and then she falls off the wagon and struggles with her addiction. It was really intense. And it totally felt like I got to go out with a bang."

During her tenure on ER, she also starred in her then-husband Billy Morrissette's film Scotland, Pa. (2001) and a year later in Christopher Nolan's Insomnia (2002). She also appeared in the sports comedy Semi Pro, Tina Fey's Baby Mama and the dramedy Finding Amanda with Matthew Broderick, all in 2008.

From 2009 to 2011, she starred in FX's Rescue Me as Kelly McPhee and guest starred in a 2011 episode of The Office as Susan, the wife of Robert California. Tierney also had a recurring role as Maddie Hayward in The Good Wife.

'The Affair'

In 2014 Tierney made her small screen comeback in a big way by starring on Showtime's hit drama The Affair, playing the unassuming wife, Helen Solloway, who is cheated on by her wayward husband Noah (Dominic West). 

However, Tierney told the Boston Globe in 2016 that her character bears some responsibility for their failed marriage. 

“What we saw is this woman realizing how culpable she was in contributing to the dissolution of her marriage,” Tierney said of Helen. “So it was fun to play this ‘perfect wife’ as she unraveled in front of people and got dismantled a little bit.” 

Breast Cancer

In 2009 Tierney was diagnosed with breast cancer. She took time off to recover but jumped right back into work the following year, her first project being a stage play.


In 1993 Tierney married actor and director Billy Morrissette. The two divorced in 2006.

Early Life

Maura Tierney was born on February 3, 1965 in Boston, Massachusetts. She was raised in an Irish Catholic family, the first of three kids to Pat and Joseph Tierney. While Tierney's mother worked as a real estate broker, her father, Joseph, was a longstanding local politician, working as a member of the Boston City Council.  

After high school, Tierney matriculated to New York University, where she studied drama.

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