Peter Riegert

Actor, Writer and Academy Award Nominated
Director and Producer

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At the Podium

At the podium, Riegert shares anecdotes from behind-the-scenes of his 40-year career in film, television, and theater, inspiring audiences to take risks despite fear of failure. Providing practical takeaways for students and corporate executives alike, Riegert offers serious and humorous insights into success, failure, chance, and opportunity. Encouraging listeners to “act first and worry later,” Riegert motivates us to rely not on logic but instinct to move ourselves forward.

About Peter Riegert

“There is no map in life. You have to get out there, have courage and take chances. Success finds you.”

With nearly 100 film and television credits ranging from Animal House to Seinfeld, Emmy and Academy Award nominations, Peter Riegert is an actor, writer, director, and producer. A University of Buffalo graduate, Bella Abzug campaign worker, former schoolteacher and social worker, Riegert-who began working as an actor without any formal training or experience-defied the odds to pursue a career in entertainment, proving that courage attracts success.

Riegert’s notable film credits include his iconic portrayal of Donald “Boon” Schoenstein in Animal House, Crossing Delancey, Local Hero, Chilly Scenes of Winter, Oscar, The Mask, Traffic, Coldblooded, A Man in Love, Utz and King of the Corner.

Riegert’s television debut began with M*A*S*H, where he played Cpl. Igor Straminsky. He was Assemblyman Zelman in The Sopranos and attorney Chauncey Zeirko in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He starred in Gypsy, Barbarians at the Gate, Concealed Enemies, the series Middle Ages and appeared in the final episode of Seinfeld. He was in the only banned episode of Family Guy.

Riegert debuted on Broadway in the musical Dance With Me. He also starred in The Old Neighborhood, An American Daughter, Censored Scenes from King Kong, and The Nerd.

By Courier, based on a short story by O. Henry, marked Riegert’s debut as a screenwriter and film director. It received an Academy Award nomination for Best Live Action Short Film. He wrote, directed, and starred in the feature King of the Corner, with Isabella Rossellini, Eli Wallach, Rita Moreno, Beverly D’Angelo, Eric Bogosian and Dominic Chianese.

Riegert was most recently part of the award-winning short, The Response, about Military Tribunals in Guantanamo which received the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award and was short listed for best live action short for The Academy. He is preparing his next feature, based on the novel A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read.

At the podium, Riegert shares anecdotes from behind-the-scenes of his 40-year career in film, television, and theater, inspiring audiences to take risks despite fear of failure. Providing practical takeaways for students and corporate executives alike, Riegert offers serious and humorous insights into success, failure, chance, and opportunity. Encouraging listeners to “act first and worry later,” Riegert motivates us to rely not on logic but instinct to move ourselves forward.

Speech Topics

  • Animal House 2.0: Don’t Let College Get In The Way of Learning
  • Observations of a Wandering Jew: What I Found Along the Way
  • Stop Thinking and Act! The Power of Instinct in the Pursuit of Success

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