Sam Waterston (born November 15, 1940) is an Oscar nominated American actor noted particularly for his portrayal of Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy on the long-running NBC television series Law & Order. He has also performed in many feature films.
He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to George Chychele Waterston (an English immigrant) and Alice Tucker Atkinson (an American Mayflower descendant). Sam Waterston is equally at home on the stage, in movies, and on television. Waterston attended both the Brooks School, a boarding school in North Andover, Massachusetts, and the Groton School. He entered Yale University on scholarship in 1958 and graduated with a BA in 1962. He also received a honorary degree in 2001. After graduating from Yale, he attended the Clinton Playhouse for several months. Waterston also attended the Sorbonne in Paris and the American Actors Workshop.
His first film was Fitzwilly in 1967. Other films include The Great Gatsby, Rancho Deluxe, The Boy Who Loved Trolls, Journey Into Fear, Capricorn One, Heaven's Gate, Hopscotch, The Killing Fields (nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor), Interiors, Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Mindwalk, and Serial Mom. Waterston is a six time Emmy Award nominee, winner of the Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Aside from Law & Order, he has played other television roles including D.A. Forrest Bedford in I'll Fly Away. He also had a starring role in an episode segment on the TV series Amazing Stories called "Mirror Mirror".
He is also on the Advisory Committee for the Lincoln Bicentennial, celebrating Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday. Waterston, who takes an active interest in Lincoln, has portrayed Lincoln on stage and screen (The Civil War, Gore Vidal's Lincoln, Abe Lincoln in Illinois on Broadway, and also voiced Lincoln at an exhibit at the Philadelphia Constitution Center).
An active humanitarian, Waterston also donates considerable time to organizations such as Refugees International, Meals on Wheels, The United Way, and The Episcopal Actors' Guild of America.
In 2002, Waterston and fellow Law & Order castmate Jerry Orbach were honored as "Living Landmarks" by the New York Landmarks Conservancy.
Currently resides in Connecticut with his wife, Lynn, and four children, Elisabeth, Katherine, Graham, and James. Elisabeth and James Waterston have both pursued acting careers.