Maura Tierney on Her “Emotionally” Draining Role in ‘The Affair’


“If I’m emotionally drained, that’s okay. That means I did my job.” – Maura Tierney

Showtime’s The Affair developed a reputation as one of the most emotionally-intense series on television over its five-season run, which will conclude in October. On the series, actress Maura Tierney plays Helen Solloway, whose spouse, Noah (Dominic West), engages in an extramarital affair that goes on to cause distress in the lives of nearly everyone connected to the affair in some way. With the final season currently underway, Tierney spoke with Vanity Fair about the emotional intensity that results from working on the series.

When asked if she found working on the show “worthwhile, both personally and professionally,” Tierney’s response highlights that as much of an accomplishment it was for her it also a profound challenge for her. She explains, “Yeah, it’s sort of… I mean, okay, we know it’s only acting, right? But at the end of a season, you can get very drained, because you’re going to have to be in that kind of despair for so long. Pretend despair—but your body doesn’t necessarily know the difference between [the two]when you’re manufacturing it. So that can take its toll. And it can be draining. But professionally it was great for me.”

Of course, the Golden Globe winner admits that while the series can be emotionally draining, it’s part of her job and what she needs to do to do it correctly. She says, “But then you try to reflect, and you go, ‘Yes, but you’re trying to do this job that provides entertainment or distraction or whatever.’ And I have a lot of gratitude to be able to do it. So if I’m emotionally drained, that’s okay. That means I did my job.”

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