Whatever Happened To Maura Tierney?

Chances are, you know Maura Tierney best as Dr. Abby Lockhart from "ER." The actress played Abby from Season 6 all the way until Season 15, bringing the character from her early days as a nurse all the way to her final moments on the show when she and Luka — her former teacher and eventual partner — left behind Cook County General Hospital in search of a fresh start.

But that was way back in 2009 — so what has Tierney been up to since then? Well, you may have spotted her in at least one on-screen project since her days on "ER." In fact, the actor has practically been working non-stop. Her resume includes "The Good Wife," "The Office," and a Golden Globe-winning performance on "The Affair." And besides the ups and downs of her career, Tierney's been through some pretty significant life changes, too.

Sadly, Tierney and former co-stars like George Clooney may never reunite for a potential "ER" reboot. But let's explore what happened to Maura Tierney after she left the show.

Maura Tierney had a cancer scare

Around the time Maura Tierney left "ER," she was diagnosed with breast cancer. So she ended up taking some time off work to deal with her health. "I was so lucky," she later told Parade. "I had insurance, I found a great team of doctors at UCLA, and I could afford not to work while I was getting treated." Tierney added that her medical team had a positive outlook from the get-go, which she also embraced.

Even though her doctor assured her she'd be okay, the treatment wasn't easy. She had surgery in 2009 and then discovered that her cancer wasn't completely gone. Eventually, though, Tierney got the all-clear. "I feel an immense sense of gratitude," she shared. The actress also learned that accepting help is okay. "It's a life-changing thing to be in a position of needing help and being so lucky as to get it," she explained.

While Tierney probably didn't want to return to the hospital so soon after leaving "ER" — especially for something as serious as her own health — it's great to see that she came out the other side so strong.

Maura Tierney starred in Rescue Me

One of Maura Tierney's first roles in her post-"ER" era was in the TV series "Rescue Me." She played Kelly, a fearless, mysterious newbie on FX's firefighter show for a total of nine episodes between 2009 and 2011. Unsurprisingly, Tierney's appearance on the show was roundly applauded by critics, while Entertainment Weekly claimed that her appearance quite literally saved the show.

After Tierney was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was unclear whether she would return to "Rescue Me." However, after undergoing treatment, she returned to the show in Season 7. A few years later, her character actually had a cancer-related plotline. Though she was cancer-free when she filmed it, she had the personal experience to bring some honest touches to the character's arc. Tierney was even able to give the show writers some advice.

"We haven't had cancer, and we wrote stuff that was a touch melodramatic perhaps," series co-creator Peter Tolan told TV Guide. "[Tierney] got me on the phone one time, and we had the most fascinating conversation. She tried to explain to me what it felt like and what was going through her mind." Though it took Tolan time to understand the actress' point of view, it's clear that she was able to influence her character's writing for the better.

Maura Tierney had a guest role on The Office

In 2011, Maura Tierney landed another big role in one episode of the beloved comedy "The Office." She played Mrs. California in an episode of the same name. The episode centered around Tierney's character, who is the soon-to-be-ex-wife of the company's head boss Robert California.

Tierney was personally asked to appear on the show — and she agreed because she was already a big fan. Tierney told AV Club in 2014 that while she anticipated that the guest role would be pretty easy, she was shocked when the show taught her a thing or two about acting.

"You know how a lot of actors will say that it's important how you act off-camera, that you work for the other actors, and ... I've always envisioned myself as a person who's really present for the other actors, and I've always tried to do the same thing off-camera — or better — than I did on-camera," she said. Of course, with "The Office," the mockumentary style means that everything is filmed and there are no traditional close-up shots. "You're like, 'Oh, so this is what it's like to just really work hard.' Because you never know when you're on camera or not," she said, adding, "It lights a fire under your a**."

Maura Tierney starred in Ruth & Erica

In 2012, Maura Tierney took on another new role in "Ruth & Erica," a WIGS miniseries released online about an older couple and their adult daughter. Tierney played Erica, the couple's daughter, who was struggling to take care of her aging parents.

As Tierney explained to HuffPost, she was initially struck by how real the script felt, even though she had no firsthand experience of caring for older parents. "I just found it so touching and moving," she explained. 

"Ruth & Erica" offered the actor a novel experience — a TV show made for an online platform. In many ways, this gave the team freedom that Tierney had never experienced on network TV shows. "Doing a webisode couldn't be more different," she explained. "There are no rules, you can use whatever kind of language you want. This is about real s***, uncensored."

You may have spotted her in The Good Wife

Between 2012 and 2013, you may have spotted Maura Tierney in a few episodes of "The Good Wife," the CBS show about the true story of a lawyer whose husband's scandalous choices leave her overworked and overwhelmed. Tierney appeared in seven episodes of the show in Season 4 as Maddie Hayward, the Democrat who is the landlord of the Lockhart Gardner offices. 

For Tierney, the guest role on "The Good Wife" gave her a chance to reunite with Julianna Margulies, who had starred in "ER" as Carol Hathaway, a nurse who appeared in the show from Season 1 until Season 6.

"It was wonderful," Tierney said of the reunion with Margulies. "We only overlapped slightly on 'ER,' ... but my very first episode, my very first scene on the show was with her," she told Showbiz Tonight. "She's just lovely. Very warm and gracious, it was really nice to see her again."

One of her biggest roles after ER was in The Affair

In 2014, Maura Tierney landed one of her biggest roles to date in Showtime's "The Affair," a series that followed two married people having an affair with each other. Tierney played Helen, who was married to Dominic West's character Noah (who began an affair with Ruth Wilson's character Alison).

Tierney starred in the show for five seasons, and since the show was told through different perspectives, it gave her the chance to explore a new style of character work. As she told IMDb, she ended up creating six different versions of Helen to suit other characters' perspectives. On Helen's daughter's version, the actress shared, "Whitney's was my favorite one because we just made [Helen] off the rails. Like, unhinged."

"The Affair" came to a bittersweet end for Tierney after Season 5. Not only did it mean saying goodbye to an amazing character, but it also meant saying goodbye to her on-set family. "As dark of a show [as] it is, we just had such a good time and we would just be laughing our heads off in the makeup trailer and then have to go do some scene with someone dying or something," she told Entertainment Weekly. "So I'll miss that."

Maura Tierney picked up an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe win in 2016

In 2016, Maura Tierney picked up her second Emmy nomination for her role in Season 2 of "The Affair" — she had previously been nominated in 2001 for playing Abby in "ER." At the awards ceremony, she wore a black dress designed by Christian Siriano and carried a Roger Vivier clutch. However, the Emmy ended up going to Maggie Smith for her performance as the Dowager Countess in "Downton Abbey."

Even though Tierney didn't win the Emmy, she did get recognized for her work on "The Affair" and won her first Golden Globe. Still, the win was a huge shock to Tierney. "I could barely talk. I was really surprised," she said to IndieWire at the time. Though the actress might have been surprised that she won, audiences certainly weren't! It seemed that Tierney had finally found the perfect role to showcase just how talented she really is.

Maura Tierney took part in the 2017 Women's March

In addition to her work as an actress, Maura Tierney has kept busy advocating for women's rights. In 2017, she attended the Women's March in New York City, which was organized to protest then-president-elect Donald Trump's anti-feminist policies. "I marched in New York," she told Larry King later that year. "It was stunning, really stunning. It's very rare to walk in the streets of New York with ... hundreds of thousands of people and, like, nobody isn't polite or smiling." Apparently, Tierney walked with a big group of her friends and was blown away by the sense of community she felt at the march.

Tierney was, as she explained, passionate about standing up for women's rights — especially during the Trump presidency. "The showmanship aspect of politics seems to have completely taken over and there seems like nothing left of actual craft or statesmanship," she told King.

Meditation is part of her self-care routine

Since leaving "ER," Maura Tierney has kept up her self-care routine, regularly practicing transcendental meditation. "When I'm practicing properly (twice a day for 20 minutes), it's incredibly helpful, and its effects are cumulative, so you have to do it," she told Magazine C. She also finds a sense of calm by diving into a good book, going on walks, and, most importantly, staying off her phone as much as possible.

In a 2019 interview with Us Weekly, Tierney explained a little more about her meditation routine. "I have a mantra," she said. "You're not supposed to tell anyone what it is, and I never have." She added, "I think it's the only secret I've never told anyone."

When it comes to Tierney's transcendental meditation practice, she's also in good company — other celebrity practitioners include Katy Perry, Daisy Lowe, and Sir Paul McCartney.

Maura Tierney was in a scary accident

In 2018, Maura Tierney had another health scare — this time, it involved a bike accident. Photos from the scene showed Tierney lying on the ground as paramedics were called to the scene. She was given a neck brace and driven to a local hospital.

As the actor explained to ExtraTV, she had been riding her bike in Marina del Rey when a car ran into her from behind. Apparently, she recalled hearing a noise, then turning to see a car directly behind her. "I was just riding my bike like a normal person," she said. "It was very scary — it could have been so much worse ... I got banged up."

After the accident, Tierney suffered from back pain and was initially afraid she had been paralyzed. "I was like, 'Just let me walk away from this, just let me walk away from this' ... I just injured my back, but it's better now," she said.

The actress starred alongside Steve Carell in Beautiful Boy

Maura Tierney's next big project was "Beautiful Boy," based on the true story of David Sheff's relationship with his son as he struggles with drug addiction. Tierney played Karen Barbour, an artist who develops a friendship with a young man and eventually marries his father. The film also featured an all-star cast, including Steve Carrell, Timothée Chalamet, and Amy Ryan.

As Tierney explained to Awards Daily, "Beautiful Boy" gave her the exciting chance to play a character inspired by a real person. "I spoke to Karen several times before we started shooting, so that was very helpful to me," the actress shared. "She's very smart and has a great sense of humor and she was very honest and open. Even if it didn't end up in the film, talking to her was very helpful in informing even those quiet moments." She also used real photos to help create Karen's unique wardrobe!

She starred in The Report

"Beautiful Boy" was followed by yet another star-studded project for Maura Tierney. In 2019, she starred in "The Report" alongside Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, Ted Levine, and more major Hollywood players. The film followed the real-life story of a researcher who uncovered horrific torture tactics used by the CIA — Tierney played one of the agents who employed such tactics.

"I play a woman who implements and oversees these enhanced interrogation techniques, torture, that the CIA was practicing and not telling the government they were doing it," she told Salon. "[My] character oversees this and oversees the torture and keeps on doing it." The actress explained, "The CIA continued with this program covertly for four or five years, and it didn't work. They were getting no results."

At first, getting into the headspace of such an intense character wasn't easy for Tierney. But the film's director Scott Burns helped her find some "clarity on who [the character] was," according to the actress. Ultimately, she realized the character was primarily motivated by "fear and shame" — and as hard as it was, Tierney eventually found a way into the character's psyche, proving once again just how talented she really is.

In 2021, she starred in Your Honor alongside Bryan Cranston

Maura Tierney's streak of high-profile projects continued in 2021 when she landed a recurring role on "Your Honor" playing prosecutor Fiona McKee in the courtroom drama. Even though Tierney was, at this point, no stranger to appearing on major TV shows, the role gave her the chance to try something new.

"I loved that job," she told Radio Andy about the show, adding, "I don't usually get to play characters like that. I'm usually crying and emoting all over the screen and it was nice to kind of play this, like, super hard-ass lawyer. It was just really fun."

Tierney ended up appearing in four episodes of the show at the end of its first season. Although she had hoped to come back for Season 2, her character never returned to the show. Though we don't know why, we do know that this was another stand-out performance for Tierney.

She played Grace in American Rust

Landing yet another big TV role, Maura Tierney played Grace Poe in the show "American Rust." And as usual, Tierney didn't shy away from a challenge — her character finds herself in a complicated moral dilemma as the mother of a young man accused of murder. 

Again, this role offered a challenge for the seasoned actor. "The character is very balls out, and so it was a little more adventurous for me to jump into that skin," she told Variety. "I'd love to be able to say, 'F— everything,' but that's not really my personality or my process. So, it was fun to be that person."

"American Rust" ultimately ran for 18 episodes. And as of 2023, Tierney is gearing up for her next big moves. She's slated to appear in "The Iron Claw," a period drama about wrestling, and "Twisters," a follow-up to the cult classic "Twister" about storm chasers.