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Emmys nominees: First-time nom – Maura Tierney

The past season on “ER” was a demanding one for actress Maura Tierney, but she’s hardly complaining. Then again, word that the show will be taking a lighter direction with her character is not greeted as bad news.

“I really enjoyed last year, but it was a lot of pain, so I think they’re going to lighten up, which I’m glad about,” she says, adding, “After all, I was on a sitcom for 4-1/2 years.”

Tierney came to “ER” two seasons ago soon after her stint on “NewsRadio.”

She’s made the transition to a dramatic role well enough to earn her first Emmy nom as a supporting actress in a drama series. As intensive care unit nurse Abby Lockhart, Tierney spent the season dealing with her manic depressive mother, played by Sally Field, who also received an Emmy mention.

“They wrote some great stuff for me last year,” she says. “They decided to present the relationship in a real way. It was embattled and difficult, really ugly at times. You don’t see that much on TV. I feel lucky it was handled so well.”

Tierney has at least two more years on “ER” and has no plans beyond that. During her breaks she’s taken parts in some films. Last summer she worked on “Scotland, PA,” directed by her husband, Billy Morrissette, and recently acquired for distribution by Lot 47. This summer, she acted in a smaller part in “Insomnia,” directed by Christopher Nolan (“Memento’).

This is not the first Emmy event for Tierney, however, she attended as a cast member of “ER” last year. But going as a nominee this time, she’s getting pressure from friends to dress up for the occasion.

“I usually wear suits. I don’t even own a dress,” she says. “But I think I’m going to have to get one now.”

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