James Waterston
Actor, Musician, and Man




Sam< Elisabeth Katherine


Some Impressions Regarding James Waterston

by noodle


I became aware of James Waterston by way of being an admirer of his dad, Sam Waterston. The picture of James and Sam in tuxedos is wonderful. (Was this a series of photos done about stage actors and their offspring; was this the picture that got James a gig modeling in Paris?).

When I found out he (James) was in Dead Poet's Society, my next, uh, 10 viewings of the film took on a whole new perspective. Though his role is less major than Ethan Hawke's or Robert Sean Leonard's, he does have his moments. (Later, James, Ethan and Robert became part of a theater group, the Malaparte, where James acted, wrote, directed, sold concessions, tickets, etc.). In DPS, James introduces us to Gerard Pitts, a tall, gawky, crew-cutted fellow, a man-child who's comfortable dancing with his techno-Latin scholar buddy, Mr. Meeks, up on the roof where they find success bringing in rock 'n' roll to the staid Whelton Academy. In the film, Pitts mentions that he planned to go to Yale, but may not---which was a curious comment, since in real life James had to interrupt his year at Yale to film DPS, but was reinstated a year later.

My other information about James comes from the internet. He seems to have the bulk of his acting experience grounded in theater, in plays by Eugene O'Neill, Chekov, Shakespeare, Thornton Wilder, etc. According to a chat sponsored by the producers and fans of Christy, James' most recent project, James grew up in NYC, where I have heard more than one actor say that is where one can get the best foundation for acting, on the stage. As far as his childhood, his parents were divorced when he was quite young. Where this could have been an obstacle in the father/son relationship, James seems to have a healthy, loving relationship with his dad (and his mother and stepmother as well). When I asked James during a chat, what his happiest childhood memory was, I was expecting something about visiting the Coliseum or some other famous place, but he related the experience of being lulled to sleep at night with his folks talking quietly in the front seat of the car, as they drove someplace special. One of the articles I saved from last summer was printed around Father's Day, by the Associated Press, by William Kates, and demonstrated the friendly and warm relationship between father and son, as they discussed working together on LDJIN.

Last summer James and Sam performed at the Syracuse Stage, in A Long Day's Journey into Night. Though I was unable to attend, the many articles and the public radio interview were illuminating and informative. In more than one article, we learn that James had performed the role of Edmund Tyrone in Pennsylvania about 1998, and that his dad had seen the performance and liked the play. In other articles, it seems that James was most impressed with a scene between Edmund and his father (to be played by Sam), where it's at the end of an emotionally draining day, and father and son and drinking a little too much, and letting their hair down and this was the scene that convinced James that he and his dad should do the play. When James planned to spend time on the East Coast last summer, preparing for his wedding, timing and fate allowed it to actually happen. According to articles and the radio interview, both father and son, as well as the rest of the cast, were able to dissect and flesh out their characters with a thoroughness that made the play too real, in at least one fan's estimation. During the radio interview, James' self-deprecating humor showed through when the moderator suggested there might be some competition between father and son, and James allowed that his dad was more famous and more financially well-off, to which Sam added, that he was also a lot older, which I took to mean that James will catch up with him in time. (There's a Satchel Page comment that I've heard Sam refer to, most recently in the Biography Magazine article, about, keep on running and don't look back because someone might be gaining on you).


We hope, through this website, to let people find out about James Waterston, who is much more than just the "Son of Sam". He is a child of his age, comfortable with cellphones and the internet (although he was a bit overwhelmed when he went on the Christy chat!). Recently, while in New York, he took on the project of creating his own website at www.jameswaterston.com . There is more to be added (a way to purchase his music, for one thing!), but it is well worth a look! --Ayesha Haqqiqa