Photo: Michael Greenberg/Nbc

Veteran actor Sam Waterston discusses leaving ‘Law & Order’ and looks forward to new opportunities.

Sam Waterston, known for his iconic role as District Attorney Jack McCoy on ‘Law & Order,’ is closing this chapter of his career after three decades. In a recent appearance on ‘Today,’ the 83-year-old actor shared his feelings about leaving the show.

“It was time to move on, and the exit was beautifully crafted,” Waterston said, reflecting on his decision not to return to the role after his final episode airs. He hinted, however, that McCoy might still have a presence on the show in some form.

Sam Waterston Reflects on His Departure from
Photo: Rob Kim/Getty

Waterston’s tenure as DA McCoy, beginning in season 5 in 1994 and earning him multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, has been a significant part of his career. His final moments on set were marked by heartfelt farewells, with creator Dick Wolf and the crew giving speeches that resonated deeply with him.

With Tony Goldwyn joining the show as Waterston steps away, Waterston expressed excitement for Goldwyn’s portrayal, humorously noting, “My reputation is in jeopardy with Tony taking over. I expect he will be fantastic.”

Photo: Will Hart/Nbc; Amy Sussman/Getty

Waterston clarified that his departure from ‘Law & Order’ doesn’t mean retirement from acting. “I’m not retiring. My manager and wife are already looking for my next role,” he shared.

He described the liberating feeling he experienced after his last day on set. “It’s like a new space opened up in my mind that was previously filled with the show. Now, I see the world through my own eyes, and it’s invigorating,” he commented.

Sam Waterston
Photo: Peter Kramer/Nbc

Waterston joked about feeling “drunk on freedom” and is excited about the numerous possibilities ahead. “My bucket list is longer than ever,” he added.

Sam Waterston’s departure from ‘Law & Order’ marks the end of an era for the beloved show, but it also opens a new chapter for the esteemed actor, filled with fresh opportunities and perspectives.