Richard Schiff

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half hour Archive interview, actor Richard Schiff talks about his early interest in television and how he learned from watching classic shows like The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy. He describes his time at City College in New York and his fascination with directing, chronicles his transition to acting, and recalls his early television roles. He speaks of his roles in Steven Spielberg's "The Lost World," as well as in Picket Fences, LA Law and NYPD Blue. He discusses acting in the short-lived series Relativity and how he came to be cast in The West Wing. Schiff then details his experience on The West Wing as "Toby Ziegler", including working with the large ensemble cast, creator Aaron Sorkin, and director Thomas Schlamme. He outlines the cultural impact of the show and speaks of the evolution of his character throughout the run of the program. He talks about how the television industry has changed since The West Wing, how he deals with auditions, and what he hopes his legacy will be. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview on June 3, 2010. 

"I think 'The West Wing' was a perfect storm of good things in every possible way. No other political show had ever been successful. We were coming off a run of peace and prosperity, relatively, and it certainly was a prosperous time because of Bill Gates and the whole techno boom. There was a time of… fantasy. Also, the scandals of the Clinton administration kind of brought our feelings about that administration to a low point. Then we came along. We were really the Clinton administration, only in Camelot."

Highlights
Richard Schiff on waiting for the right roles to come along and getting cast in The West Wing
12:56
Richard Schiff on visiting the real Oval Office
04:05
Richard Schiff on reaction to The West Wing from real life politicians
03:48
Richard Schiff on getting a letter from Hillary Clinton
02:39
Richard Schiff on The West Wing episode "In Excelsis Deo"
06:57
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on television shows he watched growing up; on his high school years
On his college years; on doing theater in New York City; on his fear of acting
On directing; on his first television acting job; on various television roles
On appearing in Murphy Brown with Candice Bergen; on the unsold pilot Insecurity; on acting in the show Relativity

Chapter 2

On getting cast in Steven Spielberg's "The Lost World"; on appearing on Picket Fences; on appearing on NYPD Blue
On getting cast in The West Wing; on his The West Wing Character "Toby Ziegler"
On the pilot for The West Wing; on preparing for his role in The West Wing; on visiting the real life Oval Office; on his The West Wing character "Toby Ziegler"
On working with Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme on The West Wing; on public reaction to The West Wing

Chapter 3

On the cast of The West Wing; on The West Wing episode "In Excelsis Deo"; on his Emmy for the show
On The West Wing episode "Seventeen People"; on his The West Wing character "Toby Ziegler"; on his politics in relation to the show
On the influence of currents events on The West Wing; on how his West Wing Character "Toby Ziegler" changed over the course of the show; on The West Wing and 9/11 and politicians reactions to the show
On the cultural impact of The West Wing; on directing The West Wing; on the direction his character took after Aaron Sorkin left the show

Chapter 4

On difficulties with his character "Toby Ziegler" in the final year of The West Wing; on type casting, various movie roles, and returning to theater; on then-current television projects
On the legacy of The West Wing; on how television has changed; on auditioning, his proudest career achievement, and how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

Murphy Brown

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Richard Schiff on appearing on Murphy Brown
02:04

NYPD Blue

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Richard Schiff on getting cast for a guest starring role on NYPD Blue
05:46

Picket Fences

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Richard Schiff on appearing on Picket Fences
03:01

Saturday Night Live

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Richard Schiff on appearing in a West Wing sketch on Saturday Night Live
01:06

West Wing, The

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Richard Schiff on getting cast in The West Wing
12:56
Richard Schiff on his West Wing character "Toby Ziegler"
02:24
Richard Schiff on The West Wing's pilot episode
00:28
Richard Schiff on preparing for his role in The West Wing
01:35
Richard Schiff on visiting the real Oval Office
04:05
Richard Schiff on his character "Toby Ziegler" from The West Wing
05:17
Richard Schiff on developing his character "Toby Ziegler" with Aaron Sorkin on The West Wing
08:04
Richard Schiff on public reaction to The West Wing
03:16
Richard Schiff on working with Thomas Schlamme on The West Wing
03:19
Richard Schiff on working with the cast of The West Wing
03:58
Richard Schiff on The West Wing episode "In Excelsis Deo"
06:57
Richard Schiff on his Emmy and The West Wing's various awards
03:53
Richard Schiff on The West Wing episode "Seventeen People"
02:14
Richard Schiff on his performance as "Toby Ziegler" on The West Wing
09:56
Richard Schiff on how his political beliefs affected his performance in The West Wing
02:44
Richard Schiff on how real life events affected The West Wing
02:17
Richard Schiff on how his character "Toby Ziegler" changed during the run of The West Wing
01:13
Richard Schiff on The West Wing's 9/11 episode "Issac and Ishmael"
03:58
Richard Schiff on The West Wing dealing with real life issues and stories
02:39
Richard Schiff on reaction to The West Wing from real life politicians
03:48
Richard Schiff on the cultural impact of The West Wing
01:58
Richard Schiff on directing The West Wing
07:25
Richard Schiff on appearing in a West Wing sketch on Saturday Night Live
01:06
Richard Schiff on the turn his character "Toby Ziegler" took toward the end of The West Wing
03:00
Richard Schiff on difficulties with his character in the later years of The West Wing
06:29
Richard Schiff on the legacy of The West Wing
01:16
Topics

9/11

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Richard Schiff on The West Wing's 9/11 episode "Issac and Ishmael"
03:58

Bill Clinton

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Richard Schiff on public reaction to The West Wing
03:16
Richard Schiff on visiting the real Oval Office
04:05
Richard Schiff on getting a letter from Hillary Clinton
02:39

Characters & Catchphrases

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Richard Schiff on his character "Toby Ziegler" from The West Wing
13:21

Classic TV series episodes

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Richard Schiff on The West Wing episode "In Excelsis Deo"
06:57

Pop Culture

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Richard Schiff on his character "Toby Ziegler" from The West Wing
13:21
Richard Schiff on The West Wing episode "In Excelsis Deo"
06:57

Television and the Presidency

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Richard Schiff on public reaction to The West Wing
03:16
Richard Schiff on visiting the real Oval Office
04:05
Richard Schiff on getting a letter from Hillary Clinton
02:39
Professions

Actor

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Richard Schiff on his fear of acting
03:23
Richard Schiff on dealing with Aaron Sorkin's habit of turning in scripts late for The West Wing
05:10
Richard Schiff on auditioning
03:11
Richard Schiff on wanting to be an "actor's actor"
02:34

Performers

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Richard Schiff on his fear of acting
03:23
Richard Schiff on dealing with Aaron Sorkin's habit of turning in scripts late for The West Wing
05:10
Richard Schiff on auditioning
03:11
Richard Schiff on wanting to be an "actor's actor"
02:34
Genres

Drama Series

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Richard Schiff on acting in The West Wing
44:02
Richard Schiff on performing in The West Wing
59:37
People

Candice Bergen

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Richard Schiff on appearing on Murphy Brown with Candice Bergen
02:04

Steven Bochco

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Richard Schiff on getting cast for a guest-starring role on NYPD Blue
05:46

James Burrows

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Richard Schiff on being directed by James Burrows in the unsold pilot Insecurity
05:23

Marshall Herskovitz

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Richard Schiff on acting on the show Relativity
07:14

Allison Janney

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Richard Schiff on working with the cast of The West Wing
03:58

Thomas Schlamme

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Richard Schiff on working with Thomas Schlamme on The West Wing
03:19
Richard Schiff on Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme leaving The West Wing
01:45

Martin Sheen

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Richard Schiff on working with the cast of The West Wing
03:58

Aaron Sorkin

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Richard Schiff on developing his character "Toby Ziegler" with Aaron Sorkin on The West Wing
02:54
Richard Schiff on dealing with Aaron Sorkin's habit of turning in scripts late for The West Wing
05:10
Richard Schiff on Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme leaving The West Wing
01:45

John Spencer

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Richard Schiff on working with the cast of The West Wing
03:58

Steven Spielberg

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Richard Schiff on getting cast in Steven Spielberg's "The Lost World"
05:50

Edward Zwick

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Richard Schiff on acting on the show Relativity
07:14

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