February 3, 2024

NBC's long-running 'Law & Order' bidding farewell to start Sam Waterston

After more than four decades with the NBC flagship series, actor Sam Waterston is departing Law & Order as and his role as District Attorney Jack McCoy. An episode airing on Feb. 22 will be his final one.

The new district attorney will be played by Tony Goldwyn, 63, who will take over for Waterston, 83.

Waterston became a part of the Law & Order cast in 1994 during the show's fourth season on NBC. He had three Emmy nominations in the late '90s for his role in the series.

Having played McCoy for the subsequent sixteen years, he became the longest-running cast member in the 23-season history of the show back in 2022, when it was re-started following a 12-year sabbatical.

Waterston's Comments

“The time has come for me to move on and take Jack McCoy with me,” Waterston said in a statement on Friday.

“There’s sadness in leaving, but I’m just too curious about what’s next. An actor doesn’t want to let himself get too comfortable,” he continued. “I’m more grateful to you than I can say.”

“L&O’s continuing and amazing long run, along with its astounding comeback, is all thanks to you and [series creator] Dick Wolf, but for whose vision, patience, perseverance and unique combination of creative and business talents, none of this would have happened.”

“I feel very blessed,” he said. “I hope to see you all on the flip side.”

The Recent Revival

During the recent relaunch of Law & Order, Waterston expressed his excitement about the longrunning endeavor.

“Well, obviously, I love it,” the actor said in an interview last year. “I wondered whether I hadn’t already done this and shouldn’t go back.

“But I couldn’t stand the idea of somebody else doing it and me watching from the sidelines, so I gave it a try and I’m having a wonderful time," he added.

The news of his departure from Law & Order comes as something of a shock, given that Waterston did not give any indication that he intended to retire from the re-launched show.

“Time does take its toll, but working keeps you going,” he said a few years back when he was starring opposite Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the Netflix series Grace and Frankie.

“It helps to have a job because you have to show up,” he said. “Somebody is expecting things of you, and you need to deliver. So, it works for me," he added at the time.

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