Sam Waterston and daughter Elisabeth Waterston
Credit: Getty Images

In the Season 22 finale of Law & Order that airs on May 18, 2023, Sam Waterston will star alongside a familiar face that’s close to his heart: his real-life daughter, Elisabeth Waterston, who is also an actress. Who are Sam Waterston’s children? (Hint: You might recognize a few of them.)

Law & Order, NBC’s crime procedural created by Dick Wolf, focuses on detectives and prosecutors as they investigate and pursue justice by the New York County District Attorney at the Manhattan DA’s office. The mothership show first premiered in 1999 and is the longest-running live-action scripted prime-time show in American TV history. The series was cancelled in May 2010 but returned a decade later in February 2022 on NBC. Our sister site Variety reported in April 2023 that Law & Order was renewed for Season 23. The current Law & Order universe also includes two spin-offs: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Organized Crime.

In 1994, actor Sam Waterston first portrayed Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy in the fifth season of Law & Order. He appeared on the show for 16 seasons before he returned for Law & Order’s big revival in 2022. Waterston will be returning for the 23rd season for the 2023-2024 year. Last year, he became the longest-tenured cast member on Law & Order after 18 seasons, according to Deadline. “It’s nice to come back and just witness the thing we made,” Waterston told The New York Times in February 2022 ahead of Law & Order’s return.

Although Waterston’s character is a staple on Law & Order, the 82-year-old actor, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is accomplished in theater, television and film. He’s won a Primetime Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award and earned nominations for an Academy Award, a Tony Award and a BAFTA Award. Sam Waterston married his first wife, Barbara Rutledge Johns, in December 1964. The couple likely met when they were both students at Yale (he graduated in ’62, while she was in the ‘60 class). At the time of her marriage, Barbara was a fashion reporter in the women’s feature department of The New York Herald Tribune. Sam and Barbara divorced in 1975 after more than a decade of marriage.

Sam Waterston and second wife Lynn

After Sam Waterston divorced his first wife, he married his second wife, Lynn Louisa Woodruff, a former fashion model. Woodruff appeared in various vintage editions of Vogue, Vogue Italia, Cosmopolitan and more. Little is known about how the couple first met, but they tied the knot in 1976 and have been married for 56 years.

Who are Sam Waterston’s children?

Sam Waterston, Lynn Waterston and daughter Katherine

Who are Sam Waterston’s children? Keep reading to learn about the actor’s four kids and if they are famous too.

James Waterston

Birthday: January 17, 1969 (Age 54)

James Waterston, Sam Waterston's son

Sam has one child with his first wife, their son James Waterston (age 54). James also studied at Yale and followed in his footsteps to become an actor. At Yale, he was a member of the all-male acapella group, The Society of Orpheus and Bacchus. His first major film was Dead Poets Society, but he also worked with his father on multiple films and TV projects, including the movie And It Was Good in 2015 and the Law & Order franchise, where he appeared in Law & Order and SVU. He was also in Diagnosis: MurderThe Good WifeThe Blacklist and more. James is married to Line Lillevik, an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University.

Katherine Waterston

Birthday: March 3, 1980 (Age 43)

Katherine Waterston

Katherine Waterston was Sam’s first daughter from his second marriage to Lynn Louisa Woodruff. Katherine was born on March 3, 1980, in Westminster, London. She was raised in Connecticut and graduated from the Loomis Chaffee School in 1998. Like her siblings, Katherine is also an actress. She’s held prominent roles in Inherent Vice, Steve Jobs, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (and its sequels), Alien: Covenant, Logan Lucky, The Current War, Mid90s and The World to Come. In a March 2021 interview with Collider, the actress opened up about how having Sam Waterston as a parent impacted her acting career. “It’s a strange thing when you’re the child of a successful actor because you don’t see all the years of training and blood and sweat and tears and humiliating auditions,” she said in the interview.

Her parents supported her by attending the premiere of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them at the Lincoln Center on November 10, 2016, in New York City. In November 2018, Waterston confirmed that she was expecting her first child, and she showed off her baby bump at the U.K. premiere of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald at Cineworld Leicester Square in London. Katherine has not revealed who the father of her child is.

Elisabeth Waterston

Birthday: March 30, 1977 (Age 46)

Sam Waterston and Elisabeth Waterston

The couple had their second daughter, Elisabeth Waterston, on March 30, 1977, in Paris, France. Elisabeth is also an actress. She is best known for The Prince and Me, Good Dick and Quantico. She is married to American stage actor Louis Cancelmi (Boardwalk Empire, Blue Bloods and The Irishman.)

In May 2023, NBC Insider revealed that Elisabeth will star as McCoy’s on-screen daughter, Rebecca, in the Season 22 finale of Law & Order, which will air on Thursday, May 18, 2023. “There’s nothing simple about their relationship and there’s a lot [between them] that hasn’t been resolved,” Sam Waterston told the site while chatting about Rebecca McCoy. “The situation now ain’t easy. The wounds at the beginning are open at the end.” In the episode synopsis, Rebecca is a defense attorney just like her dad – but the two will be on opposite ends of the courtroom. The official episode description says: “When a senator is gunned down at his daughter’s wedding, McCoy pushes for a severe sentence and squares up against a formidable defense attorney — his own daughter. Price aims to stay neutral but can’t help but empathize with the defendant over a shared trauma.”

Graham Waterston

Birthday: April 29, 1983 (Age 40)

Sam Waterston and Graham Waterston

Finally, Sam and Lynn’s youngest son, Graham Waterston, was born on April 29, 1983, in New York, New York. According to Graham’s IMDb page, he is a producer and director. He is best known for And It Was Good, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry and The Ballad of Jack and Rose. Like his father and older siblings, he is also in the entertainment business. He attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and started in film production after graduation. He worked as a video designer and created installations for Fendi, Anthony Rapp’s international one-man show, Without You, Design Miami, Less the Band, and “video content for a variety of theatrical productions and musical performances in New York,” according to his bio at the Brooklyn Film Festival.

Law & Order airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.

See photos of more primetime stars and their real-life children in the new photo gallery below.