Richard Schiff: ‘House of Lies’ and its Cutthroat Wall Streeters ‘Will Be Huge’

Richard Schiff

When Don Cheadle’s “House of Lies” hits Showtime in January, “It’s going to be a watercooler show.  People will be having parties to watch this thing.  It will be huge,” predicts former “West Wing” star Richard Schiff, who plays the head of Cheadle’s cutthroat Wall Street consulting firm on the forthcoming dramedy.  “It’s so timely,” he adds.  “It holds nothing back.”

According to Schiff, it’s not that “House of Lies” — also starring Kristen Bell — has any direct correlation to today’s headline-generating Occupy Wall Street movement.  It’s that, “It depicts the disposition of people on Wall Street in a way that actually helps you understand it more.  These are human beings, not monsters, but they don’t have anything programmed within them to deal with the betterment of the rest of us.  They’re programmed to make more money for themselves and a couple of their clients, and that’s all.”  

Well, not quite all.  The show is also “very sexy.  You might see my bare a–,” advises Schiff, “but you’ll see other, much more sexy bare a–es.”

MEANWHILE:  “House of Lies” is one of a bundle of projects in the pipeline for Schiff.   Tonight (11/1) he’ll be introduced on “Up All Night”  as Christina Applegate’s father — an always-analyzing psychologist.  He tells us, “I’m enamoured of her.  I think she’s fantastic.” And then there’s his new “Up All Night” wife, Blythe Danner.

“I reminded Blythe that we worked together, must be 18 years ago now, on a TV movie in a scene were I was a lie detector test giver.  It was a time cut scene, done in one shot, in a kind of a tricky way to pass time.  They panned over to me, then panned back and it was Gwyneth Paltrow in the chair,” he recalls, speaking of Danner’s real-life daughter.  “It was before Gwyneth was a star or anything.  She was 16 or 17, and lovely.” 

The actor is also in TNT’s Nov. 29 adaptation of Scott Turow’s “Innocent” with Bill Pullman, Alfred Molina and Marcia Gay Harden.   This week, he’ll be on the set of ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” playing Snow White’s father, King Leopold. 

“We watched the pilot and my 11-year-old daughter said, ‘Daddy, you HAVE to do this,'” he relates.  

Schiff reunited with his fellow “West Wing” alumnus Rob Lowe in the 2012 big screen political drama, “Knife Fight.” 

He’s currently trying to figure out his schedule between two more projects and a trip to Israel he intends to take later in the month on behalf of the non-partisan Creative Coalition.  And there’s more on his agenda beyond that.

Schiff says he wrapped up his stint on “West Wing” feeling the kind of fatigue that comes from “a seven-year grind.  It was a wonderful grind, but 10 1/2 months a year of 70-80-hour weeks, playing one character — I needed a mental break.”   He did a one-man show in the U.K., among other things, and “rejuvenated myself.  I feel spunky now — wanting to do things.”  It shows.

 ANOTHER HOUSE HEARD FROM:  Kevin Spacey, who is currently being seen as a sympathetic Wall Street character in the “Margin Call” feature with Zachary Quinto, Jeremy Irons and Penn Badgley, has his own “House” beckoning.   A February production start has been set for Spacey’s “House of Cards” political series that has Netflix and filmmaker David Fincher executive producing.  Fincher’s directing the pilot. 

This is the deal that got much atteniton this past spring, as part of the increasing jockeying for prime content between outlets including Netflix, Amazon, even Facebook, and their traditional media rivals.  Netflix reportedly outbid HBO for the series, and guaranteed 26 episodes.  Now being cast are roles including ambitious D.C. reporter Zoe Barnes, and Linda Vasquez, described as a “severe, deadly, cunning woman at the top of her game” who will serve as Chief of Staff to the President-elect.   

The series is based on the excellent 1990 BBC miniseries starring Ian Richardson that depicted political intrigue at the end of the Margaret Thatcher era in Great Britain.  If you haven’t already seen it, it’s well worth adding to your rainy day list. 

THE BIG SCREEN SCENE:  Warren Beatty’s not saying much about his Howard Hughes movie project that moved from Paramount to New Regency a few weeks ago — other than to say it’s not a biopic about the late billionaire.  He’s starring in the project as well as producing and directing from his own script, and it appears he’s planning to start shooting it early in the New Year, since he wants prospective cast members to be available from Jan. 5 “onward.”  That includes a young Warren Beatty look-alike being cast now for a flashback sequence.  He’s described as “handsome, late twenties to fifties, square-jawed.” 

NO, N.O.:  As if New Orleans hasn’t suffered enough disasters, now the city is about to be infested by giant killer spiders — in a creature feature called “Earthquake,” that is.  The tale has these particularly nasty arachnids making tunnels under the Big Easy, which then cause earthquakes.  Kinda sounds like a “Tremors” gumbo.

1 thought on “Richard Schiff: ‘House of Lies’ and its Cutthroat Wall Streeters ‘Will Be Huge’

  1. Beth

    Great actor! Can;t to hear what he has to say about the new showtime series Innocent on the Adam Carolla podcast Monday!

Comments are closed.