Acting first appeared on Sam Waterston ‘s radar when he was a student at Yale in the 1960s. As a member of the drama society, he played Lucky in a student production of “Waiting for Godot” and the experience left him simply delighted (according to Interview magazine). And while he initially resisted the idea of entering the entertainment industry, the thrills and rewards from it kept him coming back for more.
In 1966, Waterston made her feature film debut in “The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean,” an independent avant-garde film fully financed by writer-director Juleen Compton. Shot in the Ozarks, it tells a cautionary tale of stardom as Norma Jean (clearly named for Marilyn Monroe) struggles with the fame she gains from her prescient psychic powers. Sam Waterston plays Andy, one of three struggling musicians inspired to make a little money by creating a show out of Norma Jean’s clairvoyant abilities.
Hollywood attention focused on Sam Waterston with his 1974 performance as Nick Carraway in “The Great Gatsby.” As told in Town & Country, the story of how this particular adaptation came to be is quite an interesting one. Truman Capote, the eminent novelist behind “In Cold Blood” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” was originally tasked with writing the screenplay but was quickly replaced by Francis Ford Coppola. In the field of literary classics, Coppola had far less experience than his predecessor (the best he could say about “The Great Gatsby” was that he had at least read it), but he took the job anyway because it had just come out. . He was “The Godfather” and (funny, in retrospect) wasn’t sure if he would make any money.
Time and experience are notorious in the evolution of Sam Waterston as Nick Carraway and as Jack McCoy
When Sam Waterston was thinking about joining the district attorney’s office on NBC’s hit show Law & Order, his considerations were pretty simple: The production was relatively close to where he lived, and his kids were going to college soon (he joked to NPR saying that Law & Order paid for their children’s education). Thus, the fifth season introduced fans to executive district attorney Jack McCoy, known for his cruelty and aggressiveness in his stubborn pursuit of justice. Although he often finds himself out of legal trouble for his sometimes shady prosecution tactics, he is widely respected as a brilliant and uncompromising mind, earning him the nickname “Hang ’em High McCoy.”
As much as Sam Waterston enjoys working, it’s undeniable that retirement should stay on his mind as he passes his 80s . But his gigantic presence in the entertainment industry will live on not only through his own work, but also through his daughter, who is an accomplished actress in her own right. Somehow, despite sharing a rather unusual last name, most people don’t make the father-daughter connection between Sam and Katherine Waterston, recognizable to fans as Tina Goldstein in the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise and as Janet. Daniels in “Alien: Covenant.”
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