‘Law & Order’ Star Sam Waterston on The Timing of Show’s Return

by Allison Hambrick

Ahead of its highly-anticipated return, Law & Order actor Sam Waterston revealed why the world needs the classic series now more than ever.

“We’re not shying away from any of those [timely] conflicts,” Waterston told Variety. “In fact, it’s always been the goal of the show to get people throwing their shoes at the television. Certainly there are issues that are going to infuriate people and frustrate people about how they turned out. That’s the pleasure of watching Law & Order; there is a resolution but there’s a lot of dissatisfaction with the way it goes.”

Additionally, Waterston felt like the series fed into the anger that everyone feels right now. He explained: “It feels, to me, like Law & Order might have something to contribute to the general conversation because we’re all mad about something. We’re all mad as hell about something right now and mad at each other. For us to get these big issues aired, and to have not a conclusion but a resolution of some kind that you can chew on, might be a useful service.”

For 20 years, Law & Order exemplified the best and worst of humanity. The powers behind the revival hope to do the same with the updated revival.

“It’s a great time for the original ‘Law & Order’ to be on the air,” showrunner Rick Eid added. “It’s a show about crime, but it’s really a show about society. The murder plot is a way into examining various political, social and economic issues from several different perspectives. We haven’t made any intentional tonal changes, per se, but the world has definitely changed significantly since 2010, so the tone will probably feel different simply because the world is different.”

Law & Order: Sam Waterston and Producers Discuss Revival

Additionally, series creator Dick Wolf maintains that “there’s nothing to fix; we just want to continue telling great stories.” Law & Order will continue its typical format of cops solving the crime and the District Attorney’s office solving them.

Wolf believes wholeheartedly that Waterston’s Jack McCoy is the chief moral authority of the series. He clarified: “He is the ultimate conscience of the show. I look forward to him emulating the career of New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who served until he was 90.”

 “I don’t know how long I’ll be on Law & Order,” Waterston responded. “But if my career lasts as long as Robert Morgenthau’s, I will have nothing to complain about at all.”

Even so, Waterston is grateful to return to Law & Order. The actor explained: “I thought at first, ‘Haven’t I done this already?’ I’m so glad I didn’t miss this chance, because you’re racing through your life. You’re in a big hurry all the time. You don’t really get much opportunity to ever look at it or look back at it or look down at it at the height of it. You know, a life is a big deal.”