James Waterston

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James Waterston
James Smallwood Waterston

(1969-01-17) January 17, 1969 (age 50)
Years active1980–present
Line Lillevik (m. 2000)
Parent(s)Sam Waterston
Barbara Rutledge
RelativesKatherine Waterston (paternal half-sister)

James Waterston (born January 17, 1969) is an American film, stage and television actor whose first role was playing Gerard Pitts in the 1989 film Dead Poets Society.

Personal life[edit]

Waterston grew up in New York City, the son of actor Sam Waterston and Barbara Rutledge. His father later remarried, making Waterston the older half-brother of actresses Elisabeth Waterston and Katherine Waterston, and filmmaker Graham Waterston.

Waterston studied at Yale, where he was a member of The Society of Orpheus and Bacchus, an all-male a cappella group. While still in college, but having already appeared in films and television, he formed the theater company Malaparte with numerous friends, including Ethan Hawke and Robert Sean Leonard. During the 1991 to 2000 life of Malaparte, Waterston and his colleagues did everything from directing to taking tickets. Waterston also formed an improv/sketch group called Circus Maximus.


Waterston first came to attention playing Gerard Pitts in the 1989 film Dead Poets Society. While much of his screen work has been in television productions, he did appear in the 2015 film And It Was Good, working with his father Sam and sister Katherine.

Waterston has a number of stage credits, such as the lead role in the 2011 world premiere of Chinglish, by David Henry Hwang, at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. He has starred in many off-Broadway plays in New York City, and New England.

Like other New York City based actors, Waterston has appeared in different roles across the Law & Order television franchise over the years. He played a doctor in the Law & Order 1999 episode, "Refuge (Part II)". He also appeared on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, in the 2008 episode "Inconceivable", as a husband whose wife couldn't conceive without in-vitro fertilization. He returned to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, in the 2017 episode “Real Fake News”, playing Congressman Luke Bolton, who gets falsely accused of soliciting underage girls.

Waterston has numerous other appearances on episodes of television dramas, such as Diagnosis: Murder, The Good Wife, The Blacklist and others. He played the role of Rev. David Grantland in three made-for-television movies that served as a wrap-up to the Christy television series: Christy: Return to Cutter Gap (2000) and the two-part Christy, Choices of the Heart (2001) (part 1: Christy: A Change of Seasons and part 2: Christy: A New Beginning).

Waterston is on the Board of Directors of Providence Magazine, with circulation in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, and has contributed photographs to the magazine. His mother, Barbara Waterston, is the editor of the magazine.


Year Title Role Notes
1989 Dead Poets Society Gerard Pitts
1989 Little Sweetheart Richard
2015 And It Was Good Bridegroom

External links[edit]