Richard Burgi was born in the suburbs of Montclair, New Jersey, where his family was involved in community theater. He began his career in New York, landing regular roles on the Manhattan-based daytime soap operas "One Life to Live," "Another World," and "As the World Turns." After moving to Los Angeles, he starred on another soap opera, "Days of Our Lives." He later received a role on "Viper," after a string of guest appearances on various television shows, including a 1989 television film debut in "Chameleons." His first lead role was in the 1994 television series "One West Waikiki."
Burgi was cast as the lead in the UPN television series "The Sentinel" and later received recurring roles on "The District," "24," and "Judging Amy," as well as guest roles in other series and films. He appeared on ABC's "Desperate Housewives," playing Karl Mayer and was eventually promoted to a regular cast member in season two. Burgi also starred in the 2004 big screen thriller "Cellular," as well as a remake of "Fun With Dick and Jane" and the 2005 dramedy "In Her Shoes," playing Toni Collette's love interest. Additionally, he was cast in the 2007 horror film "Hostel: Part II" and played the police officer in "Friday the 13th" in 2009. He also starred in "The Green Inferno," with Eli Roth, which was filmed in Chile in 2012.
Burgi guest-starred and recurred on series "Harper's Island," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Hot in Cleveland," "My Family USA," and "One Tree Hill," where he played Brooke Davis' father.