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Maura Tierney Recalls 'NewsRadio,' and Recounts a Sweet Phil Hartman Story

By Cindy Davis | Celebrity | November 10, 2014 |

By Cindy Davis | Celebrity | November 10, 2014 |

In an interview with the A.V. Club, The Affair’s Maura Tierney discussed her long and varied career, from 1987’s Student Exchange to Rescue Me, to ER. Of course, many of us fell in love with Maura during her NewsRadio days, when she was part of one of the most delightfully warped casts in TV history. Though my heart fluttered over Dave Foley, it was Phil Hartman with his glorious deadpan who stole (and whose untimely death later broke) my heart. By all accounts he was a super-nice, unassuming guy, and Tierney — who seems equally down-to-earth — only adds to the love with a sweet on-the-job story. She also spoke about working with David Bowie, James Spader and Christopher Walken — and holy cow, that’s my dream team, right there.

On Hartman:

“I do remember one thing he said to me. Joe Rogan was being so fucking mean to me one day—and mostly we were all friends, but Joe could be a weirdo—and I was sort of upset about it, so I was just sitting over in the corner. And Phil came over and put his arm around me, and he said, ‘You know, I just want to tell you you’re loved.’ Isn’t that really nice? I know you expected me to tell some wacky story about Phil, but he was like that, too. He just put his arm around me and said that. He was so sweet. He was a really nice man.”

(*insert your “Aaaaw” here, and then sit down and have a little we-still-miss-Phil sob with me*)

Tierney also noted that everyone on the show was under 30, “except for Phil, who acted like he was 15 years old,” (which doesn’t seem right; if my calculations are correct, Foley was 32 and Root was 43).

And hey, did we know Tierney was fired from Growing Pains?

” I was fired from Growing Pains…it was on the second day of rehearsal…I don’t know why! I think maybe I had a bad attitude. I really don’t know. The director kept saying, ‘Watch Kirk [Cameron]! Watch Kirk! Kirk knows what he’s doing! Watch Kirk!’ And then I got fired. So that’s what I get for watching Kirk, I guess. Or maybe I didn’t watch him closely enough. Either way, I don’t think I’m welcome in his bunker.”

(I’m thinking, bullet dodged. And who the hell wants to be in Kirk Cameron’s anything?)

Working with Christopher Walken:

“He’s wacky as shit…But he’s fascinating. Everything you think he is, he’s that. It’s all true. And I think he likes to be that way. I think he cultivates it! He taped his lines to the chest of one of the young actors he shared a scene with—and he was delighted with himself for having done that! But he was also excellent in the film.” (Scotland, Pa).

Turns out Tierney’s Office stint with another of our favorite Quirkmeisters, James Spader confirms a bit of a difference in wacky-levels:

“He’s a little wacky, too. But nice! He’s not Walken-level wacky.”

For those of you who may have forgotten, Tierney was supposed to play Parenthood’s Sarah Braverman, but after being diagnosed with breast cancer, the actress had to drop out so she could be treated. Maura was replaced by Gilmore Girls’ Lauren Graham, and…

“…the thing about that is, Peter and Lauren are a couple, so if I hadn’t had to drop out, she wouldn’t have gotten in, and they never would’ve made a love connection. So I take credit for that—as well I should!”

Finally, Tierney had a great story about working with David Bowie on The Linguini Incident:

“…he was, like, my idol when I was growing up. It was sort of when I was starting to listen to music and I realized that I didn’t have to listen to classic rock like all the kids I went to school with. He was a revelation to me.

…And I found out from Richard that David Bowie liked the Pixies, and I loved the Pixies at the time, so I just kinda sorta casually dropped the Pixies into the conversation so that David Bowie would think I was cool. And then he, like, sent his person out and had him buy all the Pixies CDs that existed, and we played them in the dressing room, and it was fucking awesome. It was an amazing moment to, like, hang out with David Bowie and listen to the Pixies. Oh, and I went out for drinks with Iman one night, too. But I was so painfully shy.”

ZOMG, hanging out with Bowie and Iman — can’t get much cooler than that. Read the full interview for more tidbits on Gene Hackman, Al Pacino (“I don’t think [he] liked me very much.”) Richard Gere, Edward Norton, Mickey Rourke…

Cindy Davis, (Twitter)

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