Maura Tierney (“The Affair”) was a surprise winner at the Golden Globes for Best TV Supporting Actress last winter, and then it surprised most pundits again when she was nominated for an Emmy for Best Drama Supporting Actress this July; it was not only her first nomination for this show, it was the show’s first and only nomination in any category.
Tierney previously contended in this category 15 years ago for playing Abby Lockhart on the long-running medical drama “ER.” She didn’t win that race, but to try to claim the prize this year she has submitted “Episode 204” of “The Affair” to Emmy judges. Tierney discussed that episode when she spoke with us about “The Affair” back in June, before nominations were announced (watch the complete interview above). About that episode, in which her character Helen Solloway gets arrested for driving while drunk and high, Tierney says, “I thought it was very sad and funny. It was fun to be a lot less perfect [than Helen normally seems to be] and to watch the fallout of all the characters’ choices.”
“The Affair” boasts a distinctive storytelling format, showing events from multiple, often contradicting points of view. In the first season the focus was Helen’s ex-husband Noah (Dominic West) and his new wife Alison (Ruth Wilson), but season two expanded the story to include the perspectives of their exes Helen and Cole (Joshua Jackson).
At the end of season two, which aired last fall, we also discover that Helen was driving the car that killed Scotty Lockhart (Colin Donnell), resolving a murder mystery that had been brewing since the pilot. But there turned out to be plenty of blame to go around: Noah helped cover up the hit-and-run accident, and Alison was the one who pushed Scotty into harm’s way while fending off his assault.
“Nobody’s in the clear in season three,” Tierney explains, though she didn’t know many details at the time we spoke. “Every season it’s about the consequences of the choices made in the previous season, so it’s going to be tricky for everyone in season three.”
For Tierney, one of the big discoveries of Helen’s viewpoint was “she comes to terms with how not perfect she is. In Noah’s point of view she was kind of this perfect martyr, but then you find out she’s a lot more culpable in what made her marriage vulnerable, and watching her learn that was fun to play.”
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