Maura Tierney Didn’t Know What It Was Like to ‘Really Work Hard’ Before She Guest-Starred on ‘The Office’

The Office ran on NBC from 2005 until 2013. During its time on the air, the sitcom had multiple guest stars. Some of its most notable cameos include Idris Elba, Jim Carrey, and Will Ferrell. In 2011, Maura Tierney appeared on The Office for one episode. She discussed how the experience challenged her as an actor. 

Brian Baumgartner as Kevin Malone, Ellie Kemper as Kelly Erin Hannon, Maura Tierney as Susan California on the set of The Office
‘The Office’ cast Brian Baumgartner as Kevin Malone, Ellie Kemper as Kelly Erin Hannon, Maura Tierney as Susan California|Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Maura Tierney guest-starred on ‘The Office’ after a 10-year run on ‘ER’

Tierney started her acting career in the late 1980s. After booking her first movie, Student Exchange, she appeared in several TV shows movies throughout the 1990s, including Liar, Liar, and NewsRadio, per IMDb. After four years of playing Lisa Miller on NewsRadio, Tierney auditioned for the medical drama ER. The actor landed the role of Abby Lockhart in 1999. On ER, fans of the show watched Tierney’s character go from a nurse to a doctor while navigating through personal drama. 

RELATED: ‘Growing Pains’: Maura Tierney Still Doesn’t Know Why She Was Fired From the Show

The Baby Mama actor stayed on ER for ten seasons. Through her time in ER, she resented her character. Tierney wanted Abby to die before the show ended, per OK! Magazine. Nonetheless, she was heartbroken when the show wrapped after 15 seasons.

“I had a really great time there, but it’s been almost a decade, and part of me is ready to move on, but part of me is going to be very sad about it,” she said. 

Maura Tierney played ‘Mrs. America’ on ‘The Office’

James Spader as Robert California, Ed Helms as Andy Bernard, Maura Tierney as Susan California in episode 809 of The Office
‘The Office’ castJames Spader as Robert California, Ed Helms as Andy Bernard, Maura Tierney as Susan California|Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

RELATED: Why ‘The Office’ Producers Felt James Spader Wasn’t Right for the Show: ‘He Needed to be on Something Like ‘The Blacklist’

After ER ended, the casting directors of The Office approached Tierney about a walk-on role. The actor appeared in one episode and played Robert California’s (James Spader) wife. During an Oct. 2014 interview with AV Club, Tierney said she agreed to the cameo because she’s a fan of The Office. However, the actor said the show’s documentary/reality show filming style made her constantly think about her on-camera angles.

“I’ve always envisioned myself as a person who’s really present for the other actors, and I’ve always tried to do the same thing off-camera—or better—than I did on-camera,” Tierney said. “But when you go on The Office, you’re always on-camera.”

“And then you’re like, “Oh, so this is what it’s like to just really work hard,” she continued. “Because you never know when you’re on camera or not. It lights a fire under your ass.”

Tierney described one member of ‘The Office’ cast as ‘wacky’

RELATED: ‘The Office’: Brian Baumgartner Reveals What It Was Really Like to Work With James Spader

In her interview with AV Club, Tierney continued to discuss her time at The Office. While she only lasted on the series for one episode, the actor said Spader left a lasting impression. Spader joined the cast of The Office as Robert California following Steve Carrell’s 2011 exit. In 2012, the Blacklist star left the series after one season. Tierney shared that, before The Office, she never met her on-screen husband in person. 

“He’s a little wacky, too,” Tierney said of Spader with a laugh. “But nice!” 
The Office is available to stream on Peacock.