Q&A: Maura Tierney Talks 'Lucky Guy'
Tierney stars alongside Tom Hanks in the play by late writer-director Nora Ephron.
March 20, 2013
Walking through Times Square on her dinner break before a Broadway preview of Lucky Guy, the Nora Ephron play in which she stars alongside Tom Hanks, actress Maura Tierney laughed and chatted with us about playing Alice McAlary, the loyal wife of Pulitzer Prize-winning tabloid columnist Mike McAlary (Hanks), and the meaning of friendship.
What first appealed to you about this project?
MAURA TIERNEY: Initially it was because I wanted to work with [director] George [C. Wolfe], and with Tom. They're both extremely talented, so that was my initial draw, and of course, Nora Ephron. It's a great show, it's a play about New York in as many ways as it’s a play about the character of McAlary.
You’ve had roles on ER, Rescue Me, NewsRadio, and The Good Wife—and you performed in Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage at the Gate Theater in Dublin. Had you done a lot of New York theater prior to the TV work?
MT: No, I had not. The first play that I did here was about five years ago. It was a Neil Labute play called Some Girls. We did it downtown, Off-Broadway.
Does theater bring out something different in you as an actor?
MT: Yeah, absolutely. The kind of focus for me that I need to have on stage, all of us, you really do have to be incredibly focused on the moment you're in. If you don't like what you just did, if you spend one second thinking about the past, you're screwed. You constantly have to be looking forward and staring at the moment you're in. I've tried to translate that to film or TV work, but you can't trick your brain into the immediacy of theater. It's just a real, tangible thing.
What's it like to work with Tom Hanks and the rest of the cast?
MT: I've learned that everybody I worked with starts 'on time on time'—not kind of on time, on time on time! On time means 15 minutes early. They're all extremely professional. The cumulative experience of everyone I'm working with is just really overwhelming. My scenes are with Tom, kind of exclusively. He's very present as an actor. And that eliminates a lot of work, because if someone's very frank and open right away, it's easy to make a connection right away.
What is it about the story of Lucky Guy that resonates today?
MT: What the director has said is, ‘It’s a story about a man who had a tremendous amount of ambition but maybe not quite as much talent, and over the course of his career and certain challenges he faced, his talent kind of rose up to meet his ambitions.’ And that's an interesting story, I think. That's a part of a story people can dig into. He faced some huge challenges. He was in a very severe car accident, which he had to rehab from for a long time, [and] he got sick with cancer. He was sort of humbled by life, and I think had a tremendously loyal wife, who I play, and he just sort of reapplied himself in a different way.
Loyalty is an interesting quality.
MT: It is. I think he was a complicated guy, and I think she was a tremendous well of support for him. Their marriage is a little bit of a slice into the private life of this character.
And of course, Nora Ephron and Tom Hanks were real-life friends and colleagues, so that must add something special to the play.
MT: It's really moving to me how dedicated Tom is to Nora's work. It makes me really wish I had met her. She's lucky that people are so respectful of what she's done and nobody's messing with it, which I think is really great.
We should all be so lucky.
MT: That's exactly what I say. We should all be so lucky as to have friends like that.