Richard Schiff: Wikis


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Richard Schiff

Richard Schiff, May 2009
Born Richard Schiff
May 27, 1955 (1955-05-27) (age 54)
Bethesda, Maryland, United States
Spouse(s) Sheila Kelley

Richard Schiff (born May 27, 1955) is an American actor. He is best known for playing Toby Ziegler on the NBC television drama The West Wing, a role for which he received an Emmy Award. Schiff also made his directorial debut with The West Wing, directing an episode entitled "Talking Points."


Personal life

Schiff, the second of three sons, was born in Bethesda, Maryland, the son of Charlotte, a television and publishing executive, and Edward Schiff, a real estate lawyer.[1] His parents divorced when he was twelve. He dropped out of high school, but later obtained an equivalency diploma. He studied briefly at The City College of New York (CCNY) in 1973, but lacked interest and skipped final exams. He moved to Colorado where he found employment cutting firewood. Returning to New York in 1975 he began to study acting at CCNY and was eventually accepted into their theater program.

Schiff met his wife Sheila Kelley during auditions for "Antigone" in 1993; they married in 1996 and have a son named Gus and a daughter named Ruby.[2]

He is a lifelong member of the Democratic Party. He supported Barack Obama in the 2008 US Presidential Election. Previously, he had endorsed Senator Joe Biden, before he dropped out.[3]


Schiff was reluctant to act and initially studied directing. He directed several off-Broadway plays, including "Antigone" in 1983 with a just-graduated Angela Bassett. In the mid-1980s (according to Schiff), he overcame his reluctance and decided to try his hand at acting. This resulted in several TV roles. He was seen by Steven Spielberg in an episode of the TV drama High Incident and Spielberg subsequently cast him in The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), His career began an upward climb that led to his co-starring role as White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler on Aaron Sorkin's award winning television series The West Wing. Schiff became known for his introverted and intense approach to his craft as well as his low-key delivery style.

1995 saw Schiff gain recognition playing the lawyer to Kevin Spacey's "John Doe" in the hit Se7en. In 1996 Schiff guest starred on the popular TV series ER (Season 2 - Episode 17), and appeared in NYPD Blue the following year. In 1996 he played a corrupt probation officer in City Hall (film) along with Al Pacino and John Cusack. Schiff played a doctor alongside Eddie Murphy in the 1998 Dr. Dolittle remake. He also played Col./Brig. Gen. Robert Laurel Smith in the 1998 HBO TV movie "The Pentagon Wars", based on the real-life development of the US Army's Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle. That same year, Schiff also appeared in the movie blockbuster Deep Impact, in which he played Don Beiderman. Schiff also appeared in one episode of Becker during the series first season. In 2001, he acted in the movie What's the Worst That Could Happen?, He played the memorable part of the tough Mr. Turner in I Am Sam opposite Sean Penn and Michelle Pfeiffer and co-starred in People I Know with Al Pacino.

In 2004, Schiff appeared in the film Ray as Ray Charles's producer, Jerry Wexler. For the role he shaved off his trademark beard. After working on The West Wing for six seasons, Schiff chose to exit the series in its seventh (2005–2006), and was contracted to appear in half of the season's episodes. However, when NBC chose to end the series, Schiff continued his appearances until the end of the show's run in May 2006, though he did not appear in the series finale. That same year he starred along with Peter Krause in the thriller Civic Duty 2006.

Schiff had a memorable cameo appearance as himself in the second season finale of Entourage . The scene has Schiff at lunch with his agent Ari Gold, where he declares a desire to act in action movies. In early 2006, Schiff returned to his stage roots, starring in the premiere run of Underneath the Lintel, a one-act, single-character play by Glen Berger, at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, New Jersey. In February 2007, he appeared in the West End production of Underneath the Lintel in the Duchess Theatre in London, England, and also appeared on BBC Radio Five Live and talked at length to Simon Mayo about his experiences acting in The West Wing and his new West End production. In 2007, he appeared as "Philip Cowen" in the season finale of Burn Notice. A radio version of Underneath the Lintel, performed by Schiff, was broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on January 5, 2008. Schiff also starred in a mounting of Lanford Wilson's Talley's Folly at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, New Jersey in the fall of 2008, as accountant Matt Friedman, opposite Margot White as Sally Talley. Later that year Schiff co-starred in Last Chance Harvey with Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson and Another Harvest Moon with Ernest Borgnine and will appear in the Season finale of Eli Stone.

Schiff recently played Charles Fischer in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles in the Season 2 episode Complications. The character was a collaborator of Skynet and a traitor to the resistance. He was sent back in time to the present as a reward for his service to Skynet. He also recently played an Orthodox rabbi on an episode of In Plain Sight with former The West Wing co-star Mary McCormack. In 2009 he co-starred in the movies Imagine That (film) with Eddie Murphy and Solitary Man (film) with Michael Douglas and Susan Sarandon. And later in 2009 he went back to London to shooting two other movies: The Infidel (2010 film) in which he starred opposite Omid Djalili and We Want Sex with Sally Hawkins and Bob Hopkins. He also stars in Fox´s new series Past Life (TV series) which will begin to air in Spring 2010.


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