HomeAmerican EntertainmentTVLaw & Order‘Law & Order’ Star Sam Waterston on How the Show Impacted His Acting Career

‘Law & Order’ Star Sam Waterston on How the Show Impacted His Acting Career

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)

Nearly 30 years after making his debut on “Law & Order,” Sam Waterston opened up about how the series impacted his acting career.

While speaking to NPR about the impact his “Law & Order” role has on his career, Sam Waterston stated, “I think ‘Law & Order’ is a show to be proud of being in. And the other things that I might have done were not as exciting.”

Sam Waterston also explained that “Law & Order” permitted him, as well as enabled him, to do other things. “Like Shakespeare plays and ‘Long Day’s Journey into Night’ on the spur of the moment. WIth my son playing my son. These things were made possible by the celebrity that came with doing ‘Law & Order.’”

He did point out that John Slattery and Elizabeth Franz were also “in the company,” which helped a little bit for his career. However, Sam Waterston said that “Law and Order” was definitely a big factor. The series also kept the actor out of trouble. “I might have wound up doing other things that I wasn’t as glad to be in. Dumb roles or dumb projects. And let’s not leave out the fact that [my wife] Lynn and I had four kids who needed to go to school and go to college and ‘Law & Order’ paid for it.”

Sam Waterston Speaks About New York Theater Actors Working on the Set of ‘Law & Order’

As he continued chatting with NPR, Sam Waterson recalled New York theater actors working on the set of “Law & Order.”

“And you couldn’t go to the theater in New York and read the program [and] most of the actors have been on ‘Law & Order,’ too,” Sam Waterston declared. “And it was one of the things that made it possible for actors to continue to pursue the theater in New York.”

Sam Waterston also said that he has been and remains an advocate for “Law & Order” executive producer, Dick Wolf, receiving a Tony Award for bringing New York theater actors to the set. “Because I think he made a material difference to the theater in New York, and then New York theater paid him back by having really fabulous guest stars on Law & Order. It was like a parade.”

As he spoke about his interests away from production sets, Sam Waterston spoke about his commitment to environmental issues. “I mean my feeling about being semi-famous, which is where I classify myself, is that not that you can change minds. Not that you can do anything material necessarily, but that you can point.”

The “Law & Order” star also referenced Jane Fonda’s protests, and him participating in a protest during the Harvard-Yale game years ago. “Where we protested Harvard and Yale’s investments in fossil fuels, all of that stuff, I feel, is in the category of being able to point. But then there’s getting something done.”