‘Law & Order’: The Episode You Didn’t Realize Featured Both Philip Seymour Hoffman and Samuel L. Jackson

by Leanne Stahulak

You’d be surprised by how many well-known actors, including Philip Seymour Hoffman and Samuel L. Jackson, got their start on shows like “Law & Order.”

The Dick Wolf franchise has featured hundreds of guest stars over the years. But back in 1991, Season 1 Episode 14 featured not one, but two prominent actors.

The episode was titled “The Violence of Summer,” and it followed a group of youths who attacked a TV news reporter. “Law & Order” star Michael Moriarty’s Stone and Richard Brooks’ Robinette attempt to persuade the victim to testify so that the attackers can go to jail.

Philip Seymour Hoffman played one of the young people involved in the attack, per Looper. This, according to IMDb, was Hoffman’s first acting role ever. He would go on to star in several hit films in the next decade, including “Twister,” “The Big Lebowski,” “Patch Adams,” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” You might also recognize him from “Cold Mountain,” “Along Came Polly,” and “The Hunger Games” series.

Unfortunately, Hoffman would die at the age of 46, in 2014, due to combined drug intoxication. But the acclaimed actor, who ended up starring in 63 projects, got his start on “Law & Order.”

Hoffman wasn’t the only familiar face to star in that Season 1 episode, though. He might have played one of the youths charged with attacking the TV reporter, but Samuel L. Jackson played his defense attorney, Louis Taggert.

Unlike Hoffman, this wasn’t Jackson’s first acting credit. He’d starred in films and TV shows since 1972. But shortly after his “Law & Order” appearance, Jackson landed the biggest role of his career in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.”

From there, Jackson’s fame and popularity grew, earning him spots in the “Star Wars” and “Avengers” franchises. He also appeared in “Rules of Engagement,” “The Incredibles,” “Kill Bill: Vol 2,” “Django Unchained,” “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” and “The Hateful Eight.”

‘Law & Order’ Star Sam Waterston Reveals Why Show is So Successful

Little did Philip Seymour Hoffman or Samuel L. Jackson know that “Law & Order” would boost not only their careers but the careers of other stars as well. Including Sam Waterston, who made his debut during Season 5 as Jack McCoy.

Waterston would stay with the show until its pause in 2010. But even when the flagship show came to an end, several spinoff versions kept running. Waterston attributes the success of the shows and overall franchise to one thing and one thing only: “Because they’re good!”

“I think that’s why they keep coming back,” Waterston told Hollywood Outbreak. “And I think they’re good because Wolf [Entertainment] pays a gigantic amount of attention to detail. They don’t tire of what they’re doing. And the stories themselves… they come from the headlines, so they’re always new.”

New episodes of “Law & Order” debuted this past spring, never skipping a beat as old and new cast members mingled on screen.