Richard Schiff (born May 27, 1955) is an American actor. He is best known for playingToby Ziegler on the NBC television drama The West Wing, a role for which he received anEmmy Award. Schiff made his directorial debut with The West Wing, directing an episode entitled “Talking Points.”
Schiff was born in Bethesda, Maryland, the second of three sons of Charlotte, a television and publishing executive, and Edward Schiff, a real estate lawyer. His parents divorced when he was 12. His father was a second generation Austrian and his mother was French. He dropped out of high school, but later obtained an equivalency diploma. In 1973, he studied briefly at The City College of New York (CCNY) but did not graduate. 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 accepted into their theater program. Schiff met his wife Sheila Kelley during auditions for Antigone in 1993, and they married in 1996. They have a son, Gus, and a daughter, Ruby.
Schiff initially studied directing. He directed several off-Broadway plays, includingAntigone 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). 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 seriesThe West Wing. Schiff became known for his introverted and intense approach to his craft as well as his low-key delivery style.