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Sam Waterston

Sam Waterston

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Also Known As: Samuel Atkinson Waterston Died:
Born: November 15, 1940 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA Profession: actor, producer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A lanky, quietly intense, classically-trained actor, Sam Waterston entered film in the mid-1960s, most typically cast as pensive dreamers and intelligent yet essentially ordinary middle-class types. He languished in several forgettable features while piling up impressive credits on the New York stage until he scored as Tom in a fine TV adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" (ABC, 1973), opposite Katharine Hepburn. Waterston garnered further attention and acclaim, and made his most significant inroads into features up until that time, as Nick Carraway in the glossy but otherwise middling adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" (1974). A very persuasive and versatile performer with a slightly worried expression, the dark-haired Waterston has appeared in a series of Woody Allen films, beginning with "Interiors" (1978), including "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986) and culminating with a moving performance as the rabbi with failing eyesight in "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989). Conveying a thoughtful, sometimes anguished integrity, he gained perhaps his greatest acclaim in features for his Oscar-nominated work as journalist Sidney Schanberg, exploring the plight of the poor...

A lanky, quietly intense, classically-trained actor, Sam Waterston entered film in the mid-1960s, most typically cast as pensive dreamers and intelligent yet essentially ordinary middle-class types. He languished in several forgettable features while piling up impressive credits on the New York stage until he scored as Tom in a fine TV adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" (ABC, 1973), opposite Katharine Hepburn. Waterston garnered further attention and acclaim, and made his most significant inroads into features up until that time, as Nick Carraway in the glossy but otherwise middling adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" (1974). A very persuasive and versatile performer with a slightly worried expression, the dark-haired Waterston has appeared in a series of Woody Allen films, beginning with "Interiors" (1978), including "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986) and culminating with a moving performance as the rabbi with failing eyesight in "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989). Conveying a thoughtful, sometimes anguished integrity, he gained perhaps his greatest acclaim in features for his Oscar-nominated work as journalist Sidney Schanberg, exploring the plight of the poor of Cambodia in Roland Joffe's "The Killing Fields" (1984). He also did well in the delicate period piece "The Man in the Moon" (1991) and proved a good choice for the average American father who happens to be married to a "Serial Mom" (1994) in John Waters' typically outrageous farce. In 1995, Waterston made his feature producing debut with "The Journey of August King", in which he also had a supporting role. Waterston's next entry into producing brought him to the small screen, where he worked behind the scenes as well as co-starring in the Showtime original movie "A House Divided" (2000). Here Waterston played a plantation owner who rapes one of his slaves and fathers a child who would become, after his death, a landowner and the wealthiest African-American woman in Georgia. Other notable TV-movie work included his portrayal of real-life hero Dr. Karl Koster, a Danish man who helped save Jewish lives during the Nazi's regime, in the ABC TV-movie "Miracle at Midnight" (1998, which reteamed him with frequent film co-star Mia Farrow). As Waterston's television career excelled, his work in film was more infrequent, but later big-screen credits included a featured role in the Ismail Merchant drama "The Proprietor" in 1996, a turn as the President of the United States in the political thriller "Shadow Conspiracy" in 1997 and, for Merchant-Ivory, in "Le Divorce" 2003, playing father to a pair of American expatirate sisters in Paris. Stage work has kept Waterston perennially busy: he was a recurring presence with the New York Shakespeare Festival from 1963 until 1976 and won several acting awards for his Benedict in a 1972 production of "Much Ado About Nothing". He has subsequently performed on and off-Broadway in plays ranging from the seriousness of "The Trial of the Catonsville Nine" (1971) to the comical "Lunch Hour" (1980-81) and the poignant "A Walk in the Woods" (1988). Conveying a gentle, relaxed yet determined and craggy intensity, Waterston, with the convenient added merit of having bushy eyebrows, also played Abraham Lincoln in a 1993 revival of "Abe Lincoln in Illinois", recreating a role he had earlier played in the TV-movie, "Gore Vidal's Lincoln" (NBC, 1988). TV has brought Waterston other rewarding roles, as in the absorbing miniseries "Oppenheimer" (PBS, 1982), in which he played the controversial physicist who helped develop the atomic bomb, and in TV-movies including "Friendly Fire" (ABC, 1979), "Finnegan Begin Again" (HBO, 1985) and "David's Mother" (CBS, 1994). He received great career exposure (and earned a pair of Emmy nods) with his role as a single father coping with dramatic social change in the 1950s South in the critically well-received, but low-rated series, "I'll Fly Away" (NBC, 1991-93). Waterston joined another intelligent dramatic series when he replaced Michael Moriarty as the resident assistant D.A. on NBC's "Law & Order" in 1994. The actor brought an alluring intensity and dedicated aggressiveness to the role of Jack McCoy, a motorcycle riding, possibly alcoholic lawyer. Injecting new life into the long-running series, Waterston earned three Emmy nominations for his starring role, which he would continue to play for a decade. He also earned critical accolades for his sensitive portrayal of Dennis Shepard, the father of slain gay gay college student Matthew Shepard in the television movie "The Matthew Shephard Story" (2002). The movie chronicles how Matthew's parents came to terms with his life and concluded that their response to the murder trial of their son's killer could end the cycle of hate.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Anesthesia (2014)
2.
 Why Now (2013)
3.
 Commission, The (2003) Commission General Counsel J. Lee Rankin
4.
 Matthew Shepard Story, The (2002) Dennis Shepard
5.
 House Divided, A (2000) David Dickson
7.
 Exiled: A Law and Order Movie (1998) Assistant District Attorney Jack Mccoy
8.
 Miracle at Midnight (1998) Dr Karl Koster
9.
 Shadow Conspiracy (1997) President
10.
 Proprietor, The (1996)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1947:
Made stage debut at age six as the Page in Jean Anouilh's "Antigone"; directed by his father
1963:
First appearance with the New York Shakespeare Festival (NYSF) in "As You Like It"
1963:
Made Broadway debut in Arthur Kopit's "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad"
1964:
First appeared on television in "Camera Three" (CBS)
1965:
Made film debut in the unreleased feature "The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean"
1967:
First released feature, "Fitzwilly"
1968:
Cast as Prince Hal in the NYSF productions of "Henry IV, Part I" and "Henry IV, Part II"
1969:
Starred in Kopit's play "Indians"
1971:
Had featured role in the off-Broadway play "The Trial of the Catonsville Nine"
1972:
Starred opposite Kathleen Widdoes in NYSF Central Park production of "Much Ado About Nothing"; later moved to Broadway (aired on CBS in 1974)
1973:
Made first TV-movie; played Tom in an adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" (ABC), starring Katharine Hepburn; garnered first Emmy nomination
1974:
First came to attention in a major film "The Great Gatsby"; played the narrator Nick Carraway; initial film collaboration with Mia Farrow
1974:
Co-starred with Tuesday Weld in the TV-movie "Reflections on a Murder"
1975:
Landed title role in the NYSF production of "Hamlet"
1976:
Acted in the features "Journey Into Fear" and "Dandy, the All American Girl"
1978:
Made first appearance in a Woody Allen film with a role in "Interiors"
1979:
Returned to TV-movies after five years to star opposite Carol Burnett and Ned Beatty in the acclaimed ABC drama "Friendly Fire"
1979:
Played title role in the feature "Sweet William"
1980:
Featured in "Hopscotch" and Michael Cimino's disastrous "Heaven's Gate"
1980:
Co-starred in the Broadway comedy "Lunch Hour"
1982:
Played physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer in the seven-part PBS miniseries "Oppenheimer"
1982:
Played physicist Quentin E. Deverill on the short-lived CBS adventure series "Q.E.D."
1984:
Received Best Actor Oscar nomination for his leading role as an American journalist in Cambodia in the feature film "The Killing Fields"
1985:
Co-starred with Mary Tyler Moore and Robert Preston in the HBO romance "Finnegan Begin Again"
1985:
Acted on Broadway in "Benefactors" alongside Glenn Close and Mary Beth Hurt
1986:
Appeared in Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters"
1987:
Re-teamed with Allen for the film "September"
1988:
Played Abraham Lincoln in the two-part NBC movie "Gore Vidal's Lincoln"; Mary Tyler Moore co-starred as Mary Todd Lincoln
1988:
Starred with Robert Prosky in "A Walk in the Woods," a play dealing with arms negotiation between the U.S. and the USSR
1989:
Fourth film with Allen, "Crimes and Misdemeanors"
1991:
Starred on the NBC drama series "I'll Fly Away"; received Emmy nominations in 1992 and 1993
1991:
Co-starred in the period drama "The Man in the Moon," starring a young Reese Witherspoon
1992:
Made TV directorial debut with the "Since Walter" episode of "I'll Fly Away" (NBC)
1993:
Returned to the NYC stage to play Abraham Lincoln in a revival of Robert Sherwood's "Abe Lincoln in Illinois"; received a Tony nomination
1994:
Played the mild-mannered husband of Kathleen Turner's "Serial Mom"
1994:
Co-starred with Kirstie Alley in the acclaimed TV-movie "David's Mother" (CBS)
1994:
Joined the cast of the NBC drama series "Law & Order" as assistant district attorney Jack McCoy, replacing Michael Moriarty; in 2007, his character was promoted to New York district attorney, filling the slot vacated by Fred Thompson's Arthur Branch; earned Emmy (1997, 1999, 2000) nominations; series cancelled after 20 years on the air
1995:
Feature film producing debut, "The Journey of August King"; also played small role
1997:
Played the U.S. President in the political thriller "Shadow Conspiracy"
1998:
Featured as McCoy in "Exiled: A Law & Order Movie" (NBC)
1998:
Starred as Dr. Karl Koster, a savior of Danish Jews during the Nazi's reign of terror in the fact-based TV-movie "Miracle at Midnight" (ABC)
2000:
Starred with son James Waterston in a production of "Long Day's Journey Into Night" at Syracuse Stage
2000:
Produced the Showtime TV-movie "A House Divided"; also co-starred as the plantation owner who fathered a biracial child
2002:
Co-starred in the NBC TV-movie "The Matthew Shepard Story" as the father of slain college student
2003:
Appeared in "Le divorce," starring Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts
2008:
Appeared as Polonius in the Shakespeare in the Park production of "Hamlet"
2010:
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
2012:
Returned to series television on Aaron Sorkin's drama series "The Newsroom" (HBO) as a network news executive
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Education

Brooks School: North Andover , Massachusetts -
Groton School: Groton , Massachusetts -
Yale University: New Haven , Connecticut - 1958 - 1962

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