The first episode of Law & Order, produced by Dick Wolf, premiered on September 13, 1990. At the time, no one could have predicted that it would not only be a smash-hit but would bring about an entire Law & Order universe, including seven additional shows and a television film. To fans’ (and Dick Wolf‘s) dismay, the flagship show was canceled in 2010 following the release of its 20th season.
Even though 12 years passed, Dick Wolf never stopped thinking about the show and what could have been. So, when the opportunity to revive the hit legal drama presented itself, Wolf jumped at the chance. On September 28, 2021, the original Law & Order was renewed for a 21st season, making the revival official.
Even in the earliest stages, Dick Wolf knew he needed Sam Waterston on his team. However, as over a decade had passed, the 81-year-old actor’s return seemed less than certain. Thankfully, Wolf never had to attempt a version of Law & Order without Waterston. “Fortunately, we never had to face that question,” Wolf says. “It was always my intent to have Sam return. I’m glad he said yes.”
Waterston’s reply wasn’t quite as cut and dry as it seems, however. In an interview with USA Today, The Law & Order veteran revealed that he had to do some soul-searching before committing to the decision to return to the show.
“I was really very much of two minds about whether to do it or not,” Waterston said. “I asked myself, ‘Hadn’t I already done this? And really did I need to be doing it again?’ But I came around to the idea that it was at least worth a try. And when I stepped on the set, it was new, but it was the exact same set we had been working on 12 years ago. It made the hairs on my arm stand up.”
This ‘Law & Order’ Star Was Anxious to Return to the Set
Sam Waterston might have been hesitant to reprise his role on Law & Order, but another star remembers having the exact opposite reaction to the news. Anthony Anderson couldn’t agree to reclaim the mantle of Detective Kevin Bernard faster.
“We were two weeks out from ending our show Black-ish,” Anderson recalls. “They made the announcement that Law & Order was coming back. So I picked up the phone and called Dick Wolf up and said, ‘Hey, Dick. Is it true?'”
The show’s creator, Dick Wolf, overjoyed by the actor’s enthusiasm, replied, “Anthony, you have no idea how happy this phone call makes me.”
When asked if he had any concerns about returning for the revival, Anthony Anderson replied with a hearty no. Anderson said, “Coming back to an iconic show in Law & Order was a no-brainer for me. For me, it felt like no time had passed at all.”