Maura Tierney Is in a League of Her Own

Maura Tierney Is in a League of Her Own featured image
Photographer: Kristina Loggia | Stylist: Cristina Ehrlich / Meg Galvin | Hair: Nathanial Hawkins | Makeup: Matin
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It’s safe to say Hollywood has Maura Tierney on speed dial. The acclaimed actress is gearing up for a summer blockbuster with a role in Twisters—the sequel to the wildly popular 1996 film premieres July 19 and stars Glen Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Anthony Ramos—and is coming off a successful spring with roles in Prime’s American Rust: Broken Justice and A24’s biopic The Iron Claw as part of the NBR Award–winning “Best Ensemble” opposite Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White and Lily James.

And then there is the long list of “other” acclaims: Tierney’s work on the Showtime series The Affair won her a Golden Globe and earned both Emmy and Critics Choice Television Award nominations. Previous television credits also include her role as ‘Abby Lockhart’ on NBC’s ER, Showtime’s Your Honor with Bryan Cranston, and Rescue Me with Dennis Leary. Her film appearances make up an equally long resume, including recent ones in The Report, opposite Adam Driver and Annette Bening, and those iconic, must-watch-when-they’re on ones like Liar Liar alongside Jim Carrey.

For today though, Tierney is talking to me from her LA home on a summer afternoon with no apparent “next job” on the docket, a status she is perfectly fine with. While her star status may be long-standing and consistent, she shares that her true passion is avant-garde theater and volunteering—all while being overly qualified to teach a masterclass in removing on-set makeup after a long day of filming.

Maura Tierney Digital-Cover 2024
Kristina Loggia

Congrats on Twisters. It sounds like people are excited about it. How does it feel to be coming up on a big summer movie release?

“I think people are going to love the movie. Everyone in it did an amazing job, and all the young people in it are great. It’s a movie that’s shot really well and it’s a movie that is really fun. I won’t call my role a cameo, but let’s just say I don’t chase any Twisters! I’m more of the farmer mom. I was excited to work with Isaac [director Lee Isaac Chung]. That was the main thing that was propelling me to get involved in this project.”

You’ve had a busy year with all of your projects. Are you able to take any time off this summer or will you still be working?

“I’m not working at the moment, and I’m still trying to decide what to do. I’d really love to do some theater. I’d really love to work with this theater company called the Wooster Group that I’ve worked with in the past. They’re downtown and they’re an avant-garde theater, which is honestly my favorite thing to do. I just saw them and, once I get back to New York, I’ll get in touch with them again to see if they’ve got anything cooking for me. That would be my ideal thing to do this summer—another project with them.”

I read a couple of interviews where you talked about what an important role meditation, as well as relaxation, plays in your life. What do you do to go in and out of these roles? How do you keep your personal life separate from when you are working on a project?

“Well, it’s interesting. I don’t like to meditate or relax too much when I’m in my trailer or in the chair before I go to set. The more I ruminate about a scene or think about a scene or anticipate a scene—especially if it’s challenging in terms of the emotion of it or getting the point across—the worse I seem to do. If I think about it too much, it’s not good; I don’t do well with anticipatory anxiety. 

When I’m on a movie or a TV set, I like to get ready as quickly as I can. Some people really like sitting in the chair, getting their hair and makeup done. I try to whittle that down to as small of an amount of time as possible and then I get to set and I go.

I almost like to keep myself a little off kilter before I go to work—it helps me stay in the moment. I do meditate, but I do it more for my crazy brain than I do it for my work. I would say that I prefer a little bit of not being relaxed at work. If I’m prepared, I’m ready to go and I pretty much don’t want to think too much about anything else.”

Maura Tierney standing black and white portrait
Kristina Loggia

That makes sense. Is there anything you do at the end of the day to get out of character? Anything wellness-related or some kind of bath ritual or skin-care routine?

“I don’t take baths. I have this theory that there’s two kinds of people—people who take baths and people who don’t take baths and there’s no in between. I get a little bored in there to be honest. I do have a skin-care routine and I have specific products that I’ve relied on forever. That’s one thing I definitely have. I wear so much makeup on set that it’s sort of a must. All of that makeup can almost make your face hurt after 12 hours. Getting that off with a warm face towel is a really nice way to get ready to go home and end the day.”

Can you share some of the brands that you’ve used forever?

“I use a lot of Epicuren and I’ve been using the brand for a really long time. I also like using Cetaphil to clean my face. It’s so very basic and gentle and great. After I wash my face, I use the Epicuren products with peptides and hyaluronic acid, and I use the Dermalogica Smart Response Serum ($148). I also use micellar water from Bioderma for removing my eye makeup.”

Black and white photo of Maura Tierney crouching on white background
Kristina Loggia

All great go-tos for getting your face clean.

“Yes, that’s always my goal with getting off the makeup.” 

If you weren’t acting, what would you be doing?

“I have been involved with volunteer work with the refugee population since about 2018. I worked with the Syrian refugee population in Greece several times. I’ve been to Moldova twice, working with the Ukrainian refugee population, and most recently went to Uganda. I work primarily with the South Sudanese. It’s quite profound work. I work with a group called the Campfire Project and we do wellness space therapy. It’s like movement, music, art, storytelling, dance—a way to treat trauma that’s not head-on therapy, that hopefully has some joy component to it that can last. I would be doing that a lot more full-time and maybe, hopefully, one day I will. That might be too serious of an alternative career…I could say something lighter, but I want to do more of that.”

Black and white photo of Maura Tierney wrapping arms around
Kristina Loggia

My last question: What advice would you tell the person who is just starting out in this industry?

“Oh, gosh. I was just talking about this yesterday. I, for one, had to learn confidence. There are some very lucky people out there who are just born with it or have different kinds of upbringings and didn’t go to Catholic school [laughs] that have it. But I was actively told not to be special when I was growing up. 

I wish I could have pulled myself to calm down a bit more in the beginning. When I had an opinion, the anxiety about expressing that artistic opinion was so high—all because I wasn’t very confident—even when I knew in my mind that I was right, say about a storyline or something. I would get extremely agitated and emotional, and so worked up saying my point, which just made it so much harder for everyone. So, I would tell myself, ‘It’s OK to have an opinion and express it. You don’t have to cry. Say what you think. It’s all going to be OK.’”

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