Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Sam Waterston Says Returning To Law & Order Season 21 Felt Like A Time Warp

When "Law & Order" first entered the primetime realm in 1990, the series was almost universally praised for the originality of its format, which follows a single case from investigation by NYPD Detectives all the way through to trial every episode. That compelling mix of procedural action and courthouse drama was all the more thrilling as many of the cases were inspired by real-world crimes. For two full decades, "Law & Order" followed that groundbreaking formula to become one of the best-loved series on television. 

"Law & Order" remained just as beloved even after it was canceled in 2010, with longtime fans and legions of new ones continuing to watch via syndication and streaming binges. Over that period of time following cancellation, the show has become an oddly comforting small-screen fixture, with many viewers investing heavily in those justice-seeking personas who fronted the drama week in and week out. That's particularly true of New York Justice Department heavy Jack McCoy, who's been a mainstay in the "Law & Order" landscape since the series' fifth season on the air and has been portrayed by Sam Waterston every step of the way.

Waterston's presence on "Law & Order" arguably became as comforting as the series itself during his initial 15-season tenure. So much so that longtime fans could hardly contain their joy when it was announced Waterston would reprise his role for the series' revival last year. According to the actor himself, the series hardly missed a beat during its decade-long absence from the airwaves.

Being back on the Law & Order set felt like home

To the delight of the "Law & Order" fandom, after returning for Season 21 of "Law & Order," Sam Waterston has returned for Season 22 as well. This season he should even surpass S. Epatha Merkerson as the series' longest-tenured star. According to Waterston, returning to the fold after so many years away wasn't even all that hard. In fact, he claimed in a promo video that walking onto the sets of the "Law & Order" revival felt a bit like traveling back in time. "Coming back last season, it was absolutely uncanny," the actor noted, adding, "but stepping onto the recreated sets that were so exactly like the original sets, you felt like you were in some kind of a time warp."

Even The Washington Post seems to agree with Waterston that the "Law & Order" revival is astonishingly in tune with the steadfast legacy of its predecessor — and it's safe to say Waterston's presence is the continuity piece that's kept the new show so wholly in-step with the old one. As the actor himself notes in the promo, the fact that the framework of the show hasn't really changed since its debut over three decades ago is a big part of the revival's success as well. 

Still, returning to his old "Law & Order" stomping grounds continues to have a major impact on Waterston, who further claimed that shooting scenes in the New York City courthouse, "made the hair on the back of [his] neck stand up." So too did filming scenes in the downtown area, which Waterston lovingly equated to being home. It's safe to say most "Law & Order" fans couldn't be happier he found his way back.