Richard Schiff (born May 27, 1955 in Bethesda, Maryland) is an American actor, best known for playing Toby Ziegler on the NBC television drama The West Wing, a role for which he has won an Emmy Award. Schiff also made his directorial debut with The West Wing, directing an episode entitled "Talking Points."
Richard Schiff was the middle of three sons born to a real estate lawyer and a cable TV and publishing executive. His parents divorced when he was twelve. He dropped out of high school, but obtained an equivalency diploma. He tried studying at CCNY in 1973, but had no interest. After not bothering to show up for finals, he headed to Colorado where he cut firewood and lived a hippie life. He returned to New York in 1975 and started studying acting at CCNY and eventually was accepted into their theater program. He initially disliked acting and studied to be a director. He directed several off-Broadway plays, including "Antigone" with a then just-graduated Angela Bassett in 1983. He met present wife, Sheila Kelley, during auditions for this play. The two married in 1996.
In the mid-1980s, Richard says he conquered his fears and decided to take a stab at acting. He got several TV roles, but he was seen by Steven Spielberg in an episode of the TV drama "High Incident". Spielberg the cast him in The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1993) and his career has been on an upward climb ever since that has lead to his co-starring role in The West Wing.
Schiff was also in the 1998 movie blockbuster Deep Impact, where he played Don Beiderman.In 2004, Schiff appeared in Ray as famed musician Ray Charles's producer, Jerry Wexler.
Schiff has stated in recent interviews that he will be leaving The West Wing halfway through its upcoming 7th season. Schiff most recently had a memorable cameo in the Season Finale of Entourage where he played himself. In the scene, Schiff is at lunch with his agent Ari Gold, and declares his desire to act in action movies.
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