Richard Schiff says that until "West Wing," most people couldn't pinpoint who he was or why they recognized him. Those days have changed. In the past year alone, the Emmy Award-winning actor has worked on multiple films and television series. Schiff just ended a run as an attorney on DIRECTV's "Rogue" and can be seen in BBC America's "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency." Schiff resides in Los Angeles with his wife, actress Sheila Kelley, and their children. Fans may follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Richard_Schiff.
Q. You don't seem like a Los Angeles kind of guy.
A. I'm not a huge fan of L.A. at all. I'm here because my wife has a business here and we bought a house here years ago, so we live here. I'd use any excuse to get out of L.A. I'm glad I get to work elsewhere. And my wife is always looking for the next adventure and next place to go, so we do get to go away, which is nice. We love Napa for romantic anniversary escapes.
Q. Which city do you visit often?
A. Chicago is one of them, because my son is a student at the University of Chicago and he embraces the motto, "Where fun comes to die." I just did an interview with Marilu Henner and she was speaking of (the school) with such a great emotional memory. I think it's a great school to have gone to, but people sometimes forget how hard it is. The joke is that if you want to breeze through college, go to Harvard. If you want to struggle and work, go to the University of Chicago. (Laughs) No, they're both great schools, obviously. We're very proud of our son.
Q. Besides visiting your son, what else do you like about Chicago?
A. There's so much, but the theater stands out. I really love the theater there. I first visited Chicago around the early '80s, before Steppenwolf got really famous. I hung out with John Malkovich, Glenne Headly, (Gary) Sinise and all those great actors from the early days. I saw a play by Robert Falls at the Wisdom Bridge Street Theater. I love the Lookingglass. I shot a couple of films in Chicago. And when I'm not going to the theater, I'm always happy to hang out in a blues bar until four in the morning. I don't have any dislikes about Chicago, because I haven't spent a winter there yet. But if Steppenwolf was to ever give a call and offer me a part in a play that's exciting, I'd be happy to live through a Chicago winter.
Q. Where do you like to travel overseas?
A. We had a great time in Italy, going from town to town. I loved Tuscany. We loved Florence and Siena. Rome is a little crazy, but fascinating. There's a little town above Cinque Terre, but I can't remember what it was called. We were told not to go there, but Cinque Terre was all booked, so we went. It was my favorite place in Italy. No one spoke English and we found this old room that the whole family stayed in and the kids outside were playing soccer until four in the morning. The beach had rocks on it and no sand. Maybe that's why Americans stay away from it. I don't know. I loved it there. I always feel at home in Paris. London -- I worked there quite a bit and I consider that like my second home. I love any place that has centuries of history. The U.S. is a very young country. I always think about Steve Martin's character driving along with his British girlfriend in "L.A. Story" saying, "Some of these buildings are over 20 years old."
Q. Does traveling get old for you?
A. I was offered a chance to go to Italy. Somebody was going to pay my way to go with my family, but it was during the only two-week break I had last year. I said, "I can't get on another plane and fly 14 hours. I can't do it." I want technology to advance to the level of "Star Trek" and beam me to the place I want to go and then I'd be happy. I do not like getting on a plane anymore. Just this past year, I was doing "Rogue" in Toronto and another one in New York and another one in Santa Fe and another one in Miami. I was always on a plane. I don't like being on a plane anymore, even if it's super first class with a pod and a TV. But, I like being there.
Q. Where would you like to get to next?
A. Africa is on our agenda. I've never been to anywhere on that continent, which is ridiculous. Everyone that I know who has been there speaks about it being just a magical, incredible place. Not necessarily the whole continent, of course. But I want to go on a safari some day and just see the land. I've been to New Zealand, but I've not been to Australia, China or Japan. I have relatives in Alaska and we might hit Alaska next Christmas when it's dark.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?
A. We went on many car trips and we always loved going out to Long Island to get out of the city. I remember taking a propeller plane to go to Washington, D.C. My father was still in the navy at the time. I just remember the propellers and not feeling very safe. I was 6 years old and that was my first time on a plane.
Q. Can you tell me about some of the places where you enjoyed your favorite meals?
A. Good food is everywhere. In England, I always want the Yorkshire pudding; of course, pasta in Italy. The food was so fresh and phenomenal in Israel; a fresh baguette and a big bowl of espresso coffee in France. I love waking up to that.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)
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