PROFILE
Name:
Richard Schiff
Birth Date:
May 27, 1955
Birth Place:
Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Height:
5' 10" (1.78 m)
Nationality:
American
Famous for:
His role in Role in 'The Lost World:Jurassic Park'
BIOGRAPHY
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Jurassic Park

Background:

Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Award-winning actor Richard Schiff began his career at the Manhattan Repertory Theater where he directed both on and off-Broadway productions. He later focused on acting and got his first big break playing equipment specialist Eddie Carr in Steven Spielberg's loose adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel, "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" (1997).

Schiff has appeared in such films as "Young Guns II" (1990), "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot" (1992), "Malcolm X" (1992), "The Bodyguard" (1992), "Speed" (1994), "Tank Girl" (1995), "Se7en" (1995), "Michael" (1996), "Volcano" (1997), "Doctor Dolittle" (1998), "I Am Sam" (2001), "Ray" (2004), "Civic Duty" (2006), "Waiting" (2007) and "Martian Child" (2007). He will next be seen in the upcoming films "Last Chance Harvey" alongside Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, and "Another Harvest Moon" with Ernest Borgnine, Cybill Shepherd, and Doris Roberts.

On the small screen, Schiff garnered critical acclaim for portraying Toby Ziegler, the cynical White House Communications Director, in the NBC political drama series "The West Wing" (1999-2006).

More personally, the 5' 10" character player has been married to actress Sheila Kelley since 1996 and has two kids with her.


Maryland Native

Childhood and Family:

The middle of three sons born to Edward, a real estate lawyer, and Charlotte, a cable TV and publishing executive, Richard Schiff was born on May 27, 1955, in Bethesda, Maryland. Following his parents divorced in 1967 when he was 12, Schiff left high school but managed to get an equivalence diploma. He attended The City College of New York (CCNY) in 1973, but dropped out after one year due to lack of interest. He then moved to Colorado, where he worked as a firewood cutter and lived a hippie life.

In 1975, Schiff returned to New York and started studying acting at CCNY. He was finally accepted into their theater program and graduated in 1983. He received an Alumni Association Award from CCNY for outstanding post-graduate achievement in 2000.

During auditions for "Antigone" in 1993, Schiff met actress Sheila Kelley (born on October 9, 1961), who played Gwen Taylor in NBC’s legal drama "L.A. Law" (1990-1993) and Charley Hayes in the NBC drama series "Sisters" (1991-1996).

In November 1994, Kelley gave birth to their son, Gus. The couple was married in 1996 and has another child, a daughter named Ruby Christine, in August 2000. Schiff and his family now live in Los Angeles, California.


The West Wing

Career:

After honing in on his craft at The City College of New York (CCNY), Richard Schiff, who initially disliked acting and studied to be a director, began his career at the Manhattan Repertory Theater, directing both on and off-Broadway productions, including "Antigone," which featuring a then just-graduated Angela Bassett.

In the mid-1980s, Schiff opted to try his hand at acting and began performing in downtown NYC theater productions. He also appeared in the Robert Longo-directed independent short "Arena Brains" (1988), alongside Steve Buscemi, Ray Liotta, Michael Stipe, and Sean Young.

He then made his feature acting debut with a small part as Pat Harding in Adam Friedman's independent mafia movie "Medium Straight" (1989), which was filmed in only two and a half weeks with a tiny budget. He also made his first TV-movie, "Trenchcoat in Paradise" (1989; CBS), a crime/mystery drama in which he co-starred with Dirk Benedict, Bruce Dern, Catherine Oxenberg, and Amy Yasbeck.

The early 1990s saw Schiff appear in director Geoff Murphy's film, "Young Guns II," starring Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Christian Slater, and featured in an HBO "Tales From the Crypt" installment titled "Korman's Kalamity." He also played supporting roles in the 1992 made-for-television movies "Cruel Doubt," a crime drama based on Joe McGinniss' book featuring Blythe Danner, Adam Baldwin, Dennis Farina, and Gwyneth Paltrow, and "Till Death Us Do Part," a true story-based crime drama based on the book of the same title by prosecuting attorney Vincent Bugliosi. The film starred Treat Williams, Arliss Howard, and Ashley Judd.

Meanwhile, Schiff had a small role as a reporter in the Spike Lee biopic "Malcolm X" (1992; starring Denzel Washington), and as a gun clerk in the comedy film starring Sylvester Stallone, Estelle Getty, and JoBeth Williams, "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot" (1992). That same year, he also played an art teacher in the action film starring the late Brandon Lee, "Rapid Fire," and was seen in "The Public Eye," featuring Joe Pesci, Barbara Hershey, and Stanley Tucci.

Schiff continued to add to his resume roles in the films "The Bodyguard" (1995; starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston) and "Hoffa" (both in 1992), a biographical film based on the life and mysterious death of Teamsters Union leader Jimmy Hoffa, which was directed and starred in by Danny DeVito with Jack Nicholson in the title role. He also supported Michael Keaton and Nicole Kidman in writer/director Bruce Joel Rubin's drama film "My Life" (1993) and played a scanner technician in the horror/science fiction film "Ghost in the Machine" (1993), starring Karen Allen, Chris Mulkey, and Ted Marcoux.

Richard appeared in the pilot episode of CBS’ drama/comedy series "Picket Fences" and guest-starred in an episode of NBC’s legal drama series "L.A. Law." He also could be seen as a photographer in HBO's critically-acclaimed dark comedy TV movie starring Holly Hunter, Swoosie Kurtz, and Beau Bridges, "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom" (1993).

Schiff then played small roles in the Coen Brothers' comedy film "The Hudsucker Proxy" (1994; starring Tim Robbins, Paul Newman, and Jennifer Jason Leigh), "Major League II" (1994; starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, and Corbin Bernsen), and Jan de Bont's action thriller film starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, "Speed" (1994). TV viewers could catch him in an episode of NBC’s sitcom "The John Larroquette Show," CBS’ sitcom starring Candice Bergen, "Murphy Brown," and ABC’s sitcom starring Edward Asner, "Thunder Alley," as well as in the TV movies "Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight" (1994) and "Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas" (1994).

In the mid '90s, Schiff was cast in Rachel Talalay's film adaptation of the comic book created by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett, "Tank Girl," Ivan Nagy's horror film starring Ted Raimi, "Skinner," Clare Peploe's take on James Hadley Chase's novel, "Rough Magic," starring Bridget Fonda and Russell Crowe, and David Fincher's Academy Award-nominated murder/thriller film "Se7en," starring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt.

In the following years, Schiff played roles in Harold Becker's political drama starring Al Pacino, John Cusack, and Bridget Fonda, "City Hall" (1996), David Twohy's science fiction film starring Charlie Sheen, "The Arrival" (1996), and David Koepp's thriller starring Kyle MacLachlan, Elisabeth Shue and Dermot Mulroney, "The Trigger Effect" (1996). He also played small roles in writer/director Allison Anders' musical "Grace of My Heart" (1996) and Nora Ephron's fantasy motion picture starring John Travolta, "Michael" (1996).

On television, Richard appeared in the sci-fi drama movie "Special Report: Journey to Mars" (1996) and episodes of the medical dramas "ER" (NBC) and "Chicago Hope" (CBS). He also played Barry Roth on ABC’s serial drama "Relativity" (1996-1997), alongside Kimberly Williams and David Conrad, and guest-starred in two episodes of ABC's Emmy Award-winning police drama "NYPD Blue.”

In 1997, moviegoers saw Schiff in Andrew Shea's "Santa Fe," Paul Schrader's film version of Elmore Leonard's novel featuring Christopher Walken, Bridget Fonda, and Skeet Ulrich, "Touch," Mick Jackson's disaster action film starring Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche, and Don Cheadle, "Volcano," and Erin Dignam's independent drama/thriller starring William Hurt and Sean Penn, "Loved." That same year, he also portrayed Eddie Carr in the Steven Spielberg-directed science fiction film loosely based on the novel by Michael Crichton, "The Lost World: Jurassic Park," alongside Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, and Vince Vaughn.

Schiff's career has been on an upward climb ever since. He co-starred with Kelsey Grammer and Cary Elwes in the HBO political satire based on the book by James Burton, "The Pentagon Wars" (1998), and had a featured role in Betty Thomas' comedy movie based on the children series by Hugh Lofting, "Dr. Dolittle" (1998). He also played Philly, the successful brother of an elevator operator (played by Danny De Vito), in writer/director Richard LaGravenese's comedy-drama film "Living Out Loud" (1998), and portrayed a disgruntled transit employee who plans the hijack of a subway train in ABC's TV-movie remake of Morton Freedgood's (writing under the pseudonym John Godey) thriller novel "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" (1998).

In 1999, Schiff appeared as Toby Ziegler, the cynical White House Communications Director, in NBC’s political drama series "The West Wing" (1999-2006). It won him an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (2000) and two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2001; 2002).

During his "West Wing" tenure, Schiff appeared in Bronwen Hughes' romantic comedy starring Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock, "Forces of Nature" (1999), guest starred on three 1999 episodes of The WB's high school set sci-fi drama "Roswell," and was cast as Mr. Turner in Jesse Nelson's feature drama film starring Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Dakota Fanning, "I Am Sam" (2001). He also starred opposite Jamie Foxx in the Academy Award-winning biopic of legendary blues singer Ray Charles, "Ray" (2004), and returned to the stage with a starring role in the premiere run of "Underneath the Lintel," a one-act, single-character play by Glen Berger.

After "The West Wing" ended in 2006, Schiff starred with Peter Krause in the thriller "Civic Duty" (2006), Lisa Demaine's 18-minute short drama film "Waiting" (2007), and co-starred with John Cusack, Amanda Peet, and Bobby Coleman in Menno Meyjes’ "Martian Child" (2007). He also appeared in three 2007 episodes of USA Network's "Burn Notice" and as a guest in an April 2008 episode of ABC's comedy-drama starring Jonny Lee Miller, "Eli Stone."

Schiff is now working on his upcoming film projects, "Last Chance Harvey," a romantic drama written and directed by Joel Hopkins starring Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, and "Another Harvest Moon," a drama by director Greg Swartz in which he will co-star with Ernest Borgnine, Cybill Shepherd, and Doris Roberts.


Awards:

  • Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, "The West Wing," 2002

  • Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, "The West Wing," 2001

  • Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, "The West Wing," 2000

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