Mandy Beall

Written by Mandy Beall

Modified & Updated: 28 May 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


Sam Waterston is a name that needs no introduction in the realm of Hollywood. With a career spanning over several decades, Waterston has established himself as a legendary actor and a household name, known for his versatility and remarkable performances. From stage to screen, he has captivated audiences with his impeccable talent and charisma.

In this article, we will dive into 39 fascinating facts about Sam Waterston that you may not have known. From his early life and education to his breakthrough roles and notable achievements, we will explore the various dimensions of this iconic actor’s life and career. So, buckle up and get ready to delve into the intriguing world of Sam Waterston!

Key Takeaways:

  • Sam Waterston, the accomplished actor known for his distinctive voice and versatile performances, has left a lasting impact on the entertainment industry through his dedication, talent, and commitment to social and environmental causes.
  • From his iconic role in “Law & Order” to his advocacy for environmental conservation and human rights, Sam Waterston’s career serves as an inspiring example for aspiring actors and advocates of positive change.
Table of Contents

Sam Waterston was born on November 15, 1940, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Sam Waterston, the renowned American actor, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on November 15, He is widely recognized for his remarkable contributions to the world of film and television.

He attended Yale University.

Sam Waterston studied at Yale University, where he honed his acting skills and developed a passion for the arts. His time at Yale played a crucial role in shaping his successful career in the entertainment industry.

Waterston began his acting career in theater.

Before making his mark in Hollywood, Sam Waterston started his acting journey in the theater world. His early experiences on stage helped him refine his craft and establish a solid foundation as a versatile performer.

He received critical acclaim for his role in “The Killing Fields” (1984).

In the award-winning film “The Killing Fields,” Sam Waterston delivered a powerful performance that garnered immense praise from critics and audiences alike. His portrayal of Sydney Schanberg showcased his undeniable talent as an actor.

Waterston gained widespread recognition for his role as Jack McCoy in “Law & Order.”

Sam Waterston’s portrayal of Jack McCoy, the no-nonsense executive assistant district attorney in the long-running television series “Law & Order,” brought him immense popularity and earned him a dedicated fanbase around the world.

He has been nominated for multiple awards throughout his career.

Sam Waterston’s exceptional talent has been recognized by the entertainment industry, resulting in numerous award nominations. His remarkable performances have earned him nominations for prestigious accolades such as Emmy Awards, Golden Globes, and Tony Awards.

Waterston is known for his distinctive voice.

One of Sam Waterston’s notable features is his distinctive voice, which has become synonymous with his on-screen presence. His commanding vocal delivery adds depth and gravitas to the characters he portrays.

He is an advocate for environmental conservation.

Sam Waterston is passionate about environmental issues and has been actively involved in advocating for conservation efforts. He uses his platform to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our planet for future generations.

Waterston is a dedicated supporter of the arts.

Alongside his successful acting career, Sam Waterston is a staunch supporter of the arts. He recognizes and promotes the transformative power of artistic expression and actively champions initiatives that support artists and cultural organizations.

He has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In recognition of his contributions to the entertainment industry, Sam Waterston was honored with a star on the renowned Hollywood Walk of Fame. This prestigious accolade further solidifies his status as an accomplished actor.

Waterston has played various historical figures in his career.

Sam Waterston possesses the ability to effectively portray real-life historical figures with depth and authenticity. His performances as Abraham Lincoln in “Lincoln” and President John Adams in “Gore Vidal’s Lincoln” are testaments to his incredible talent.

He has narrated several documentaries.

Sam Waterston’s captivating voice has also made him a sought-after narrator for documentaries. His rich and captivating storytelling style enhances the viewing experience and brings the subject matter to life.

Waterston has been part of the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company.

Sam Waterston had the privilege of being a part of the esteemed Royal Shakespeare Company, further showcasing his versatility as an actor. His experience with the renowned theater company allowed him to explore and master the intricacies of classical theater.

He received an Emmy nomination for his role in “I’ll Fly Away.”

Sam Waterston’s exceptional portrayal of district attorney Forrest Bedford in the television series “I’ll Fly Away” earned him an Emmy nomination. His ability to bring complex characters to life is evident in the depth and nuance he brings to each role.

Waterston has appeared in numerous Broadway productions.

Sam Waterston’s love for the stage has led him to grace Broadway with his presence in various productions. From classic plays to contemporary works, his stage performances continue to captivate audiences and receive critical acclaim.

He is a dedicated family man.

Beyond the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry, Sam Waterston values his family above all else. He is known for his commitment to his loved ones and cherishes the time spent with them.

Waterston is an active supporter of human rights causes.

Sam Waterston’s passion for social justice extends beyond environmental advocacy. He actively supports human rights causes and uses his platform to bring awareness to issues such as equality, justice, and freedom.

He has worked with renowned directors throughout his career.

Sam Waterston’s exceptional talent has attracted collaborations with some of the most influential directors in the industry. From Oliver Stone to Steven Spielberg, his performances have been guided by the vision of legendary filmmakers.

Waterston has appeared in Shakespearean adaptations.

Sam Waterston’s versatility shines through in his performances in Shakespearean adaptations. His ability to tackle the complexities of the Bard’s works has impressed audiences and critics alike.

He is known for his philanthropic endeavors.

Sam Waterston is actively involved in various philanthropic efforts, utilizing his influence for the betterment of society. His dedication to making a positive impact has inspired others to join him in giving back.

Waterston has received an honorary degree from Yale University.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the arts, Sam Waterston was awarded an honorary degree by his alma mater, Yale University. This achievement reflects his remarkable career and his dedication to his craft.

He has written and directed a play.

In addition to acting, Sam Waterston has also showcased his talents as a playwright and director. His creative abilities extend beyond performing on the stage or screen, further cementing his status as a multi-talented artist.

Waterston has been involved in political activism.

Sam Waterston is not afraid to use his voice to advocate for political causes. Throughout his career, he has been actively involved in political activism, standing up for issues that align with his beliefs.

He has made guest appearances in various television shows.

Sam Waterston’s versatility as an actor has allowed him to seamlessly transition from one role to another. He has made memorable guest appearances on popular television shows, leaving a lasting impression with his performances.

Waterston has received the prestigious Drama Desk Award.

Sam Waterston’s outstanding contributions to the theater have been recognized with the prestigious Drama Desk Award. This accolade acknowledges his exceptional skill and dedication to the art of acting.

He has voiced characters in animated films.

Sam Waterston’s distinctive voice has lent itself to animated films as well. He has brought animated characters to life with his unique vocal talents, adding depth and charisma to the animated world.

Waterston has worked extensively with director Ang Lee.

Sam Waterston and director Ang Lee have collaborated on multiple occasions, resulting in critically acclaimed films such as “The Ice Storm” and “The Grandmaster.” Their creative partnership has yielded remarkable cinematic achievements.

He is known for his impeccable work ethic.

Sam Waterston’s commitment to his craft is evident in his unwavering work ethic. He approaches each role with dedication and professionalism, consistently delivering remarkable performances.

Waterston has portrayed multiple lawyers in his career.

Sam Waterston’s portrayal of lawyers is highly regarded in the industry. From Jack McCoy in “Law & Order” to Abraham Lincoln in “Lincoln,” his ability to portray legal professionals has garnered admiration from both critics and audiences.

He has starred in films based on novels.

Sam Waterston’s talent has led him to star in film adaptations of beloved novels. His ability to bring literary characters to life on the big screen has resonated with audiences worldwide.

Waterston has received the prestigious Golden Globe Award.

Sam Waterston’s exceptional performances have not gone unnoticed by the Golden Globe Awards. His talent has been recognized with this esteemed accolade, further solidifying his status as a distinguished actor.

He is respected by his peers in the entertainment industry.

Sam Waterston’s talent and professionalism have earned him the respect of his fellow actors and industry professionals. His contributions to the entertainment world have left a lasting impact and inspired many.

Waterston has appeared in productions by acclaimed playwright Tom Stoppard.

Sam Waterston has had the privilege of working on stage productions written by renowned playwright Tom Stoppard. Their collaborations have resulted in compelling and thought-provoking theatrical experiences.

He has lent his voice to audiobooks.

Sam Waterston’s captivating voice has extended to the realm of audiobooks. His soothing narration style brings stories to life, captivating listeners and allowing them to immerse themselves in the narrative.

Waterston has been involved in social activism.

Sam Waterston’s commitment to social justice extends beyond his acting career. He actively engages in social activism, using his platform to speak out on issues such as equality, civil rights, and systemic injustice.

He has worked with talented actors throughout his career.

Sam Waterston’s collaborations with esteemed actors have resulted in remarkable performances that have captivated audiences. His ability to connect and elevate scenes alongside talented co-stars is a testament to his acting prowess.

Waterston has received the prestigious Tony Award nomination.

The theater world has recognized Sam Waterston’s incredible talent with a Tony Award nomination. This prestigious accolade further emphasizes his versatility and ability to excel in various performing arts mediums.

He has appeared in productions by renowned director Robert Altman.

Sam Waterston’s collaborations with legendary director Robert Altman have resulted in captivating and memorable film experiences. Their creative partnership has left an indelible mark on the world of cinema.

Waterston continues to inspire aspiring actors.

Sam Waterston’s remarkable career and talent inspire aspiring actors to pursue their artistic dreams. His dedication, professionalism, and undeniable talent serve as a shining example of what can be achieved through passion and hard work.


In conclusion, Sam Waterston is a highly accomplished and versatile actor, known for his outstanding performances on both stage and screen. With a career spanning over five decades, he has established himself as one of the most respected figures in the entertainment industry. From his iconic role as Jack McCoy in “Law & Order” to his captivating stage performances in Shakespearean plays, Waterston has consistently showcased his immense talent and dedication to his craft. As an advocate for social and environmental issues, he has also used his platform to bring awareness and make a positive impact in the world. With his remarkable body of work and unwavering commitment to his craft, Sam Waterston’s legacy as a celebrated actor will continue to inspire generations to come.


1. When was Sam Waterston born?

Sam Waterston was born on November 15, 1940.

2. What is Sam Waterston’s most famous role?

Sam Waterston is best known for his role as Jack McCoy in the long-running television series “Law & Order.”

3. Has Sam Waterston won any awards?

Yes, Sam Waterston has received numerous accolades throughout his career, including a Golden Globe award and multiple Emmy nominations.

4. Has Sam Waterston appeared in any movies?

Yes, Sam Waterston has appeared in several films, including “The Killing Fields,” “The Great White Hope,” and “Hannah and Her Sisters.

5. Is Sam Waterston involved in any charitable work?

Yes, Sam Waterston is actively involved in various charitable organizations and advocates for social and environmental causes.

Sam Waterston's illustrious career has undoubtedly left you craving more fascinating facts about Hollywood's finest. If you enjoyed learning about this talented actor, why not explore the lives of other industry giants? Discover the mind behind the iconic Law & Order series in our captivating article on Dick Wolf. For a deeper dive into the world of television, uncover the lesser-known facts about 20th Television, a powerhouse in entertainment. And if you can't get enough of brilliant performances, our article on Daniel Day Lewis will surely satisfy your curiosity.

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