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October 4, 2015

Richard Schiff not thrilled with West Wing either

by Bob Sassone, posted Jan 17th 2006 5:33PM

Richard SchiffAh, someone from the cast who feels the same as longtime West Wing fans.

Richard Schiff, who plays Toby Ziegler on the show (yes, I say "plays" even though he's been fired - he'll be in upcoming episodes) wanted to leave the show. In this article about a play he is in, Schiff talks about the show:

"It’s been time for me to move on for quite a while actually. You know, the money was very good and that’s what kind of drew me back because I felt like after five years of 70-hour weeks that I kind of deserved to get a little bit of a payoff. And the money got very good in the last two years. I wanted to leave and then we kind of made a compromise that I would come back and give them a story that they could use to lead me going out. They came up with firing him... That wasn’t my idea!

Between you and me - and you can print this - Toby wouldn’t have done that in ten million years! But, you know, it’s not my show...And now it’s even greatly sad because of John Spencer’s passing. I certainly, honestly, don’t want to go back for another season without Johnny there. I couldn’t imagine The West Wing without Toby Ziegler and I couldn’t imagine it without Leo McGarrey as well. It’s just not possible. So, it might move on and become another show and that’s fine.

It’s important for people to know that I really, really loved this Toby character. And I really loved the people on The West Wing. Allison Janney is my soulmate on the set and John Spencer was just one of the most fascinating, wonderful human beings I’ve ever met. And Martin Sheen is singularly the best human being I’ve ever met. Tommy Schlamme who used to run the show and Aaron Sorkin and his writing and some of the writers who tried to fill his footsteps are truly wonderfully gifted and they’re family and I love them to death. I just feel like it’s time to get out of the kitchen once in a while. It’s time to move on."



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I've been watching The West Wing on DVD, so perhaps I don't share the same enthusiasm as those who watched it week by week.

The West Wing had run its course; it had reached its natural end, even before John Spencer's death.

Mr. Schiff had been in the series for seven to eight years, so for him to say it had been time for him to move on is hardly earth-shattering. He was perfectly frank about his motives for staying with the series longer (good hours, better money), but he is like many actors who want to stretch themselves and/or do something different.

I'll miss the West Wing characters too, but all good things come to an end.

February 04 2007 at 6:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The story is still there, if the writing improves to tell it well. I'm staying the course however the constant shifting of play date, time and constant pre-empting has made it more than "difficult" for fans.
Hopefully this cast run will end with an excellent script. Someone with "foresight" could recapture what we loved originally which was really "intelligent scripts at a lively pace" with discussions among characters rather than "to" each other. Let's hope they find a way to extend the program with quality. The actors, and characters, lost will be missed.

March 10 2006 at 8:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I watched 25 (season 4 finale) again and now I know for sure Toby would not have done what he did. He told the president (in 25) that the people in the room would rather die than let him down. But the idea of it being part of a larger plan is interesting. It may be a little far fetched but I like this idea much better than the way it is.

January 31 2006 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with Richard that his character would not have acted the way he did. I'll take it a step further and say none of the West Wingers would have done this. It was contrived and done just to get rid of the Toby character. Just another sign of a lack or imagination.

January 24 2006 at 4:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have been a fan of the West Wing from the begining. When I first read Richard Schiff's comments that Toby would not do that in 10 million years I disagreed. I had thought that his convictions would allow him to overstep his authority in order not to "leave someone behind". But as I have been watching the DVDs of the series, I realize he is absolutely right. The Toby character is first and foremost a team player. He may be a miserable SOB but he would not turn against the team.

I do hope to see the series continue but I have my doubts. I will miss all of these characters regardless, especially Toby.

January 19 2006 at 9:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

[I find it incredibly inconsiderate for him to piss on his dear friends' bread. If he likes his castmates so much, why would he try to discredit even more the show and put in jeopardy everybody's job? See my point?]

He was saying that his time had passed, that if the show recreated itself anew that was fine with him.

Perhaps HIS unsaid point is that they all want to jump over to the NEW Sorkin/Schlamme show. Though I think Richard Schiff really wants to go back to the NY theatre.

January 18 2006 at 6:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Karen Disney

God bless Richard, he's right, you know. I realize The West Wing has ebbed and flowed over the years with the comings and goings of various actors and creative talent, however, by comparison, ABC's Commander in Chief, which has received critical kudos is inferior even to a less-than top-of-their-game West Wing. West Wing, even now, offers wit, intelligence, humor and humanity. How can a drama like Commander be so lacking in all of the above qualities and still pass for a quality dramatization of the nation's politicos? President Bartlet, CJ, Josh, dear Leo, Toby and all the others plainly illuminate the lackluster, dismal, doom and gloom, taking-themselves-way-too seriously crowd at Commander. The West Wing has made me cry, laugh and think over the years. I dread a season without it with Commander as a poor substitute.

January 18 2006 at 1:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I totally agree with richard i love the show and belive the first 4 seasons especially make it the greatest show of all time. amazingly well written stunning acting everything abvout it was a work of genuis and the cast went together perfectly but now its a different show. Its never recovered from losing Rob Lowe he bought the comedy and the glamour and then once Sorkin left the magic was completely lost. Its a show that should be remembered for its brilliance and not left to drag on into eternity like a empty soul. If they want to keep it running with Jimmy Smitts they should change the rest of the cast and re invent it but not trade off the old days which were so brilliant.

January 18 2006 at 6:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I might add this may be a great lesson for everyone: in some cases an actor can be out-smarted by the character he plays...

January 18 2006 at 3:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Regardless of whether the show's shark-jumping is true or not, I find it incredibly inconsiderate for him to piss on his dear friends' bread. If he likes his castmates so much, why would he try to discredit even more the show and put in jeopardy everybody's job? See my point? It's like saying "I love you but I hope you will lose your job."... Sounds stupid to me.

January 18 2006 at 3:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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