Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Waterston is equally at home on the stage, in movies, and on television. Waterston grew up at the Brooks School, a boarding school in North Andover, Massachusetts. He attended the Groton School (another prep school), Yale University, and the Sorbonne.
His first film was Fitzwilly in 1967. Other films include The Great Gatsby, Rancho Deluxe, Journey Into Fear, Capricorn One, Heaven's Gate, The Killing Fields (nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor), Interiors, Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors and Serial Mom.
Waterston continues to win accolades, he is a six time Emmy Award nominee, winner of Golden Globe and Screen Actor's Guild awards and has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for his role in "The Killing Fields."
He is also on the Advisory Committee for the Lincoln Bicentennial, celebrating Abraham Lincoln's 200th Birthday, and was recently featured on National Public Radio's Morning Edition with Bob Edwards. Waterston, who takes an active interest in Lincoln, has portrayed Lincoln on stage and screen (The Civil War, Gore Vidalís Lincoln and Abe Lincoln in Illinois on Broadway).
An active humanitarian, Waterston also donates considerable time to organizations such as Refugees International, Citymeals-on-Wheels, The United Way, and The Episcopal Actor's Guild of America.