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Richard Schiff

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Richard Schiff
Schiff at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Knife Fight
Born (1955-05-27) May 27, 1955 (age 69)
Alma materCity College of New York
Years active1983–present
(m. 1996)
RelativesClarence B. Jones (stepfather)

Richard Schiff (born May 27, 1955) is an American actor. He is best known for playing Toby Ziegler on The West Wing, a role for which he received an Emmy Award. Schiff made his television directorial debut with The West Wing, directing an episode titled "Talking Points". He is on the National Advisory Board of the Council for a Livable World.[1] He had a recurring role on the HBO series Ballers. He had a leading role in ABC's medical drama The Good Doctor, as Dr. Aaron Glassman, president of a fictional teaching hospital in San Jose, California.[2] He also provided the voice and motion-capture for Odin in Santa Monica Studio's God of War: Ragnarök, released in 2022.[3]

Early life


Schiff was born on May 27, 1955, in Bethesda, Maryland, and was raised in New York City. He is the second of three sons of Charlotte, a television and publishing executive, and Edward Schiff, a real estate lawyer.[citation needed] His brothers are producer Paul Schiff and talent manager David Schiff.[4] His parents divorced, and Charlotte later married Clarence B. Jones, Martin Luther King Jr.'s lawyer.[5][6] His early jobs before acting included driving a taxi in New York City and cleaning buses in the Greyhound terminal on 11th Avenue. "It was a Teamster job, from 11pm to 7am. ... We cleaned the grease off bus wheels with diesel fuel. I also laid cable for Manhattan Cable Television. I was a Teamster in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers".[7] Schiff and his family are Jewish. His grandfather had alleged connections to the Jewish Mafia of New York.[8][9] He studied acting at the William Esper Studio.[10]



Schiff initially studied directing. He directed several off-Broadway plays, including Antigone in 1983 with a just-graduated Angela Bassett. In the mid-1980s Schiff decided to try his hand at acting and landed several TV roles. He was seen by Steven Spielberg in an episode of the TV drama High Incident and was cast in The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) which led to being cast more frequently and eventually to the role as White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler in the television series The West Wing. Schiff became known for his reclusive and intense approach to his craft as well as his low-key delivery style.[11]

In 1995, Schiff portrayed a lawyer in Se7en. In 1996, he guest-starred on the TV series ER (Season 2, Episode 17), and appeared in NYPD Blue the following year. In 1996, he portrayed a corrupt probation officer in City Hall along with Al Pacino and John Cusack. Schiff portrayed a doctor alongside Eddie Murphy in the 1998 Dr. Dolittle remake. He also portrayed 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. The same year, Schiff appeared in the movie Deep Impact. Schiff appeared in one episode of Becker during its first season. In 2001, he acted in the movie What's the Worst That Could Happen? starring Martin Lawrence and Danny DeVito. He played the part of the tough lawyer Mr. Turner in I Am Sam opposite Sean Penn and Michelle Pfeiffer and co-starred in People I Know with Al Pacino.

Schiff appeared in Ray as Jerry Wexler, shaving his beard for the role. After working on The West Wing for six seasons, Schiff chose to leave the series, fulfilling his contractual obligations by appearing in half of the final season's episodes. That same year, he starred alongside Peter Krause in Civic Duty.

Schiff in May 2009

Schiff had a cameo appearance as himself in the second-season finale of the series Entourage. The scene has Schiff at lunch with his agent Ari Gold, where he declares a desire to act in action movies. He appeared again as a fictionalized version of himself in Entourage (2015). He also starred 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[6] in London, England, and 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 starred in Lanford Wilson's Talley's Folly at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, New Jersey in fall 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 appeared in the season finale of Eli Stone.

Schiff portrayed 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 played an Orthodox rabbi on an episode of In Plain Sight with former West Wing co-star Mary McCormack. In 2009, he co-starred in the movies Imagine That, with Eddie Murphy, and Solitary Man, with Michael Douglas and Susan Sarandon. Later in 2009, he returned to London to shoot two other movies: The Infidel,[12] in which he starred opposite Omid Djalili, and Made in Dagenham, with Sally Hawkins and Bob Hoskins. Schiff also appeared as a hypnotist in one episode of Monk's seventh season.

Schiff starred in Past Life. He also had a recurring role in Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior as FBI Director Jack Fickler. Schiff had a recurring role in The Cape.[13] He also has guest-starred on Any Human Heart with Jim Broadbent playing the role of a psychiatrist and on White Collar's second-season episode 15. He also played the role of an ex-CIA agent in a terrorist organization in Johnny English Reborn. In April 2011, Schiff returned to the London West End in the play Smash![14] He played opposite Rob Lowe in the drama Knife Fight, and starred opposite Josh Duhamel, Rosario Dawson and Bruce Willis in Fire with Fire. Schiff played an important plot character in three episodes of CBS's NCIS, bridging seasons 9 and 10, as Harper Dearing, the replacement for Osama bin Laden on the Most Wanted Wall for attacks against the United States Navy.

Schiff was cast to star in the Showtime series House of Lies, starring Kristen Bell and Don Cheadle. He also starred in the TV movie Innocent with Bill Pullman. He had a recurring guest role in the TV series Once Upon A Time and joined Helen Hunt and former West Wing star Bradley Whitford in the movie Decoding Annie Parker. Schiff starred in the political series Chasing The Hill.

In late 2012 and early 2013, he portrayed George Aaronow in a Broadway revival of Glengarry Glen Ross. He portrayed Erie Smith in a revival of the Eugene O'Neill play, Hughie, at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., in February and March 2013, and Dr. Emil Hamilton in Zack Snyder's 2013 Superman film, Man of Steel. In September 2014, Schiff returned to the West End in a revival of Speed-the-Plow by David Mamet, co-starring Lindsay Lohan. In 2015, Schiff appeared as Dwayne Johnson's character's boss on HBO's Ballers. Around the same time, he also had roles in the films Kill the Messenger, The Automatic Hate, and Take Me to the River.

Schiff had a regular role on the TNT's crime drama Murder in the First as David Hertzberg. The show also starred Taye Diggs, Kathleen Robertson, and Tom Felton.

He provided the facial and motion capture, and voice for Odin in Santa Monica Studio's game God of War Ragnarök, released in 2022.

Personal life


Schiff and actress Sheila Kelley married in 1996.[15] Kelley played Schiff's character's love interest, and later his wife, on The Good Doctor. They have a son, Gus, born in 1994, and a daughter, Ruby, born in August 2000.[15] In 2024, Ruby portrayed the character of Hannah in the final season of The Good Doctor.

Schiff has supported Democratic candidates, but has said he is not a registered member of the party.[16] He supported Barack Obama in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Previously, he had endorsed then-Senator Joe Biden, before Biden dropped out. In 2016, Schiff supported Senator Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primaries.[17] He endorsed Cynthia Nixon's bid for Governor of New York in the 2018 election.[18] Schiff supported Joe Biden in the 2020 election.[19]

On November 10, 2020, Schiff announced that he and his wife had tested positive for COVID-19 on Election Day and were quarantining at their home in Vancouver.[20] The following Monday, he announced he was hospitalized, but "showing improvements" while Kelley was at home "doing better", but still sick.[21] On November 19, 2020, Schiff was released from the hospital.[22]




Year Title Role Notes
1987 Arena Brains Deli Clerk Short film
1988 Medium Straight Pat Harding
1990 Young Guns II Rat Bag
1992 Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot Gun Clerk
Rapid Fire Art Teacher
The Public Eye Thompson Street Photographer
Malcolm X JFK Reporter
The Bodyguard Skip Thomas
Hoffa Government Attorney
1993 Skinner Eddie
My Life Young Bill Ivanovich
Ghost in the Machine Scanner Technician
1994 The Hudsucker Proxy Mailroom Screamer
Speed Train Driver
Major League II Commercial Director
1995 Tank Girl Trooper In Trench
Rough Magic Marvin Wiggins
Se7en Mark Swarr
1996 City Hall Larry Schwartz
The Arrival Calvin
The Trigger Effect Gun Shop Clerk
Michael Italian Waiter
1997 Touch Jerry
Volcano Haskins
The Lost World: Jurassic Park Eddie Carr
1998 Dr. Dolittle Gene Reiss
Living Out Loud Phil 'Philly' Francato
Deep Impact Don Beiderman
Heaven Stanner
1999 Forces of Nature Joe
Crazy in Alabama Norman
2000 Gun Shy Elliot
Whatever It Takes P.E. Teacher
2001 I Am Sam Mr. Turner
What's the Worst That Could Happen? Walter Greenbaum
2002 People I Know Elliot Sharansky
2004 Ray Jerry Wexler
2004 With It Virgil LaRocca Short film
2006 Civic Duty Tom Hilary
2007 Waiting John Short film
Martian Child Mr. Lefkowitz
2008 Last Chance Harvey Marvin
2009 Imagine That Carl Simons
Solitary Man Steve Heller
Another Harvest Moon Jeffery
2010 The Infidel Lenny Goldberg
Made in Dagenham Robert Tooley
2011 Johnny English Reborn Titus Fisher
2012 Knife Fight Dimitris Vargas
2013 Decoding Annie Parker Mr. Allen
The Frozen Ground Roy Hazelwood
Man of Steel Emil Hamilton
2014 Kill the Messenger Richard Zuckerman / Walter Pincus
The Gambler Jeweler
Before I Disappear Bruce Warham
2015 The Automatic Hate Ronald Green
Entourage Himself
Take Me to the River Don
2016 American Fable Jonathan
2017 Alien Code Miles Driskoll AKA The Men
Shock and Awe The Usual
Geostorm Senator Thomas Cross
2019 Clemency Marty Lumetta
After Class Jeff Cohen
2022 Black Panther: Wakanda Forever U.S. Secretary of State


Year Title Role Notes
1988 Cheers Tourist Episode: "One Happy Chappy in a Snappy Serape"
1990 Tales from the Crypt Lester Middleton Episode: "Korman's Kalamity"
1992 Picket Fences Joey Fero Episode: "Pilot"
L.A. Law Dog Pound Operator Episode: "Helter Shelter"
1993 South of Sunset Bobby Bruck Episode: "Dream Girl"
Doogie Howser, M. D. Billy Tishler Episode: "What Makes Doogie Run"
1994 The John Larroquette Show Wilson Episode: "Don't Drink and Drive Nuclear Waste"
Murphy Brown Mel Woodworthy Episode: "Anything but Cured"
Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas Deputy Dano Television film
Thunder Alley Pat Perkins Episode: "Blood Suckers"
Love & War Lester Michaels Episode: "The Bum"
1995 Maybe This Time Pearlman Episode: "Snitch Doggy-Dogg"
NYPD Blue Vartan Illiescu Episode: "Bombs Away"
Murder One Professor Stanley Fletcher Episode: "Chapter Nine"
1996 ER Mr. Bartoli Episode: "The Match Game"
Chicago Hope Mark Sarison Episode: "Quiet Riot"
Special Report: Journey to Mars Eric Altman Television film
1996–1997 Relativity Barry Roth 17 episodes
1997 NYPD Blue Steve Cameron Episode: "Is Paris Burning?"
1998 The Practice Bob Show Episode: "Trees in the Forest"
Brooklyn South Chris McIntrick Episode: "Cinnamon Buns"
Ally McBeal Bernie Gilson Episode: "These Are the Days"
The Pentagon Wars Lieutenant Colonel / Brigadier General Robert Laurel Smith Television film
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three Mr. Green Television film
1999–2006 The West Wing Toby Ziegler 141 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (2000)
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2001–02)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (2001–02)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2003–06)
1999 Becker Barry Episode: "Truth and Consequences"
Roswell Agent Stevens 3 episodes
2005 Entourage Himself Episode: "The Abyss"
2007 Burn Notice Phillip Cowan 2 episodes
2008 Eli Stone David Green Episode: "Soul Free"
Monk Dr. Lawrence Climan Episode: "Mr. Monk Gets Hypnotized"
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Charles Fischer Episode: "Complications"
2009 In Plain Sight Samuel Garfinkel Episode: "Aguna Matatala"
2010 Past Life Dr. Malachi Talmadge 9 episodes
Svetlana Dr. Lawrence Episode: "Eco-Shlong"
Any Human Heart Dr. Byrne 2 episodes
2011 The Cape Patrick Portman 3 episodes
White Collar Andrew Stanzler Episode: "Power Play"
Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior Jack Fickler 4 episodes
Up All Night Dr. Dean Chafin Episode: "Parents"
2012–2016 House of Lies Harrison 'Skip' Galweather 9 episodes
2012 Once Upon a Time King Leopold 2 episodes
Fire with Fire Harold Gether Television Movie
The Mindy Project Doctor Episode: "Pilot"
2012 NCIS Harper Dearing 3 episodes
2013 Bones Professor Leon Watters Episode: "The Spark in the Park"
2014 Murder in the First David Hertzberg 10 episodes
Key and Peele Ambassador Episode: "Sex Addict Wendell"
2014–2015 Manhattan Occam 9 episodes
2015 Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp Dean Fairchild Episode: "Auditions"
2015–2017 Rogue Marty Stein 22 episodes
2015–2019 Ballers Brett Anderson 26 episodes
The Affair Jon Gottlief 12 episodes
2016 The Grinder Gordon Stutz 2 episodes
Mom Robert Episode: "Pure Evil and a Free Piece of Cheesecake"
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency Detective Zimmerfield 5 episodes
2017 When We Rise Judge Vaughn Walker 2 episodes
Chicago Justice Frank Linden Episode: "Tycoon"
Jean-Claude Van Johnson Alan Morris 2 episodes
2017–2024 The Good Doctor Dr. Aaron Glassman 121 episodes
2018 Castle Rock Warden Porter's Superior (voice) Episode: "Harvest"
2018–2019 Counterpart Roland Fancher 7 episodes
2020 Psych 2: Lassie Come Home Dr. Hirsch Television film
A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote Toby Ziegler Television special
2022 Super Pumped Randall Pearson Episodes: "Grow or Die" and "War"

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2022 God of War Ragnarök Odin Facial, motion capture & voice acting


  1. ^ "Board". Council for a Livable World.
  2. ^ Denise Petski (March 13, 2017). "'The Good Doctor': Richard Schiff Cast In ABC Medical Drama Pilot". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  3. ^ Ehrlich, David (2022-11-18). "Allfather Knows Best: How Veteran Character Richard Schiff Became the Year's Best Villain — in a Video Game". IndieWire. Retrieved 2024-01-26.
  4. ^ Citron, Alan (January 14, 1994). "Paul Schiff Builds Producing Portfolio". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 4, 2023.
  5. ^ Hastings, Sheena (23 July 2012). "The Big Interview: Richard Schiff". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 2022-06-16. His parents divorced and his mother later married Clarence Jones, who happened to be Martin Luther King's lawyer.
  6. ^ a b Caesar, Ed (8 February 2007). "Richard Schiff: Life after 'The West Wing'". The Independent. London. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  7. ^ Cutler, Jacqueline (January 14, 2019). "7 Questions With Richard Schiff of ABC's 'The Good Doctor'". Channel Guide Magazine. Archived from the original on November 11, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  8. ^ "Infidel actor Richard discovered drama in his family's history". The Jewish Telegraph. jewishtelegraph.com Published 2010. Accessed February 12, 2016.
  9. ^ "Celebrities: Richard Schiff". Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. juf.org. Accessed February 12, 2016.
  10. ^ "Calista Flockhart, David Morse Pay Tribute to Acting Teacher William Esper". The Hollywood Reporter. 2019-05-18. Retrieved 2021-02-16.
  11. ^ Schiff, Richard. "Richard Schiff bio". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  12. ^ "The film that changed my life: Richard Schiff". The Guardian. London. 25 April 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  13. ^ What's Behind the Cape? on Parallel Universe on MSN: Features. Last accessed 28th November 2013
  14. ^ "Richard Schiff stars in the new West End play Smash!". BBC Website. BBC News: Entertainment and the Arts. April 13, 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  15. ^ a b Lynch, Jason (April 23, 2001). "First, Family". People. Vol. 55, no. 16. Archived from the original on November 11, 2020. Retrieved September 18, 2014.
  16. ^ "Richard Schiff discusses potential presidential candidates | Larry King Now | Ora.TV" – via www.youtube.com.
  17. ^ "'West Wing' Actor Richard Schiff Stresses Importance of Voting for Hillary Clinton: 'This Is the Last Battle of the Civil War'". The Hollywood Reporter. November 7, 2016. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  18. ^ "Richard Schiff on Twitter". Twitter. August 12, 2018.
  19. ^ Johnson, Ted (2020-10-21). "How Joe Biden's Campaign Has Mobilized Hollywood With Weekly Zoom Sessions". Deadline. Retrieved 2022-07-24.
  20. ^ Ausiello, Michael (November 10, 2020). "Good Doctor's Richard Schiff Reveals COVID-19 Diagnosis: 'This Is Tough'". TVLine. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  21. ^ Ausiello, Michael (November 16, 2020). "Ailing Good Doctor Star Richard Schiff Shares COVID-19 Update From Hospita". TVLine. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  22. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (November 19, 2020). "'The Good Doctor' Star Richard Schiff Released From Hospital After COVID-19 Treatment: "I Realize How Lucky I Am" – Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 19, 2020.