James Waterston





by noodle

The bulk of what I know and appreciate about James comes from his involvement with the Christy movies, sponsored by PAX-TV. At first I found it odd that an actor with his experience in such heavy-duty plays as LDJIN would be attracted to this type of story, but during the Christy chats, when I asked him what attracted him to these projects, he said it was the story.

Photo courtesy PAX-TV

The first movie, Return to Cutter Gap, aired on Pax last November, and the only reason I watched it was my curiosity in seeing something else besides DPS. (I have not seen Little Sweethearts or A Dog Race in Alaska, so my sampling of James' acting is fairly limited, to say the least!). After that initial viewing, I became enthralled with the story authored by Catherine Marshall, about the plucky schoolteacher from Ashville, N.C., who accepted a missionary type position in the Smokey Mtns. of Tennessee, around the early 1900's. I've read the book Christy, and I also read another book Marshall wrote about her husband, Peter Marshall, who was a pretty well-known minister in Washington, D.C., around the time of WWII. If you're interested, James, I think a remake of Peter Marshall's life would be GREATLY enhanced with you in the lead role, HINT HINT!

It is my understanding, that James' role as Rev. David Grantland in Christy had already gotten good treatment by an actor, Randall Batinkoff, in the CBS series with Kellie Martin and Tyne Daly, but for some reason, this actor, as well as Kellie, chose not to return to their roles. How grand that James was able to make his mark on this subtle, yet complex character. Fans of the show, though some admit missing Randall, remarked how James' David was more appealing, and they could feel more sympathetic to his plight in competing with the dashing doctor with the Scottish background and accent, Stewart Finlay-McLennan for the hand of Christy. On one messageboard, I tried to defend James' acting, when one poster tried to compare it to Sam's in Great Gatsby, and well, I still think James is quite competent and talented, and just needs the right vehicle to show this to the world. What impressed me most about James' portrayal were the unspoken things, the intensity of emotions conveyed by his eyes, the body language, etc.


Gerard Pitts James Waterston is, at the moment, most famous for playing David Grantland. But he has been appearing in theatrical productions since he was nine, when he played, appropriately enough, his father's son in the movie Oppenheimer. In high school, his first play was Green Julia. He took a sojourn from Yale to star as Gerard Pitts in Dead Poet's Society which was released in 1989. Little Sweethearts , a BBC production released the next year, is sometimes listed as his first film; perhaps it was filmed earlier than DPS.
He went on to form Malaparte Theater Company with Ethan Hawke and Robert Sean Leonard, where he did everything from direct to take tickets. In the Christy chat, he said he directed Shakespeare plays for two summers as well as for Malaparte. He has played in works by O'Neill, Wilder, and Chekov, as well as the Immortal Bard. His favorite roles have been as Richard in Ah Wilderness, Edmund in Long Day's Journey Into Night, and Konstantin in The Seagull. He formed an improv/sketch group called Circus Maximus. On the small screen, he played a doctor in a Law and Order Season Nine episode called Refuge.

In January 2003, he starred in Proof with the West Coat Repertory Company, and received rave reviews. In 2005, he played in As You Like It in Shakespeare in the Park, followed by starring in the world premiere of Roger Rosenblatt's Ashley Montana Goes Ashore in the Caicos... Or What Am I Doing Here? at The Flea Theater in Manhattan. In 2006, he finished shooting a two part episode of Diagnosis:Murder in which he plays a hot-headed intern. He also shot a series pilot called Shrinking Violet. He appeared at the Globe Theater in San Diego in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. In 2007, he toured with a company putting on The Importance of Being Earnest. Click here to read a fan's review of the play. In 2008, he played Mark Anthony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar at the A.R.T. in New York City.Click here for more information about the play.

During the Christy chat, James said he gets a high from acting that he doesn't get from many other things. He also quoted the advice Alan Alda gave him about acting--"Don't do it unless you can't help but do it." If you have a chance to see James on stage or on the screen, I think you will agree that James Waterston's star is on the rise!--Ayesha Haqqiqa