Samuel Atkinson "Sam" Waterston (born November 15, 1940) is an American actor and occasional producer and director. Among other roles, he is noted for his Academy Award-nominated portrayal of Sydney Schanberg in 1984's The Killing Fields, and his Golden Globe- and Screen Actors Guild Award-winning portrayal of Jack McCoy on the NBC television series Law & Order. He has been nominated for multiple Golden Globe-, Screen Actors Guild-, BAFTA- and Emmy Awards, having starred in over eighty film and television productions during his forty-five year career. Allmovie has characterised Waterston as having "cultivated a loyal following with his quietly charismatic, unfailingly solid performances." In January 2010, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Waterston, the third of four siblings, (Roberta, George and Ellen) was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His mother, Alice Tucker (née Atkinson), was an American Mayflower descendant and worked as a landscape painter, and his father, George Chychele Waterston, was an immigrant from Leith, Scotland and a semanticist and language teacher. Waterston attended both the Brooks School, a boarding school in North Andover, Massachusetts where his father taught, and the Groton School in Groton, Massachusetts. He entered Yale University on a scholarship in 1958 and graduated with a BA in 1962. After graduating from Yale, he attended the Clinton Playhouse for several months. Waterston also attended the Sorbonne in Paris and the American Actors Workshop.
The classically trained Waterston has numerous stage credits to his name. For example, he played an award-winning Benedick in Joseph Papp's production of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, and played the title role in Hamlet. He continues live theater work during the summers, often seen acting at places like Long Wharf Theatre and the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven.