Michael was born in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. His first television appearance was as Peter Barkworth's teenage son in the 1979 drama series, Telford's Change.
Immediately following this, Michael spent 2 years in the West End followed by 2 years with the Royal Shakespeare Company, most notably playing Ferdinand in the Tempest and the title role of Derek, by Edward Bond. In 1982 Michael played the lead role in Channel 4’s Sharma and Beyond for David Puttenham, directed by Brian Gilbert. Michael played Richard II in Anthony Minghella's first London stage play, 2 Planks and a Passion, directed by Danny Boyle, followed by Minghella's first television series, What if it's Raining? directed by Stephen Whittaker, again for Channel 4.
For ITV he played William Boot in Scoop, by Evelyn Waugh and in the same year played The Dauphin in Henry V, directed and acted by Sir Kenneth Branagh. Michael went on to play Laertes in Branagh 's Hamlet, and played the central role of Joe Harper in, In the Bleak Midwinter,also by Branagh, as well as acting alongside him again in Othello, starring Laurence Fishburne, and directed by Oliver Parker. For Anthony Minghella, he played Mark in the film Truly Madly Deeply.
Michael has played Hamlet on stage twice, the last one for Yukio Ninagawa at the Barbican. For the RSC he played Romeo, and Hal (in Henry IV pts 1&2) and for the RNT, he has played the lead roles of Benjamin Britten and Lewis Carroll, as well as William Blake at the Donmar.
Michael has also been in recordings of over 250 radio plays. His more recent films have been as the headmaster in Notes on a Scandal, and as Sir Robert Peel in Young Victoria, as well as two Hindi films, Kisna and I See You.
For the last 2 years he has been spending more time with his dad and daughter, whilst playing roles in The White Queen(BBC), New Worlds(ch4), Utopia(ch4) and the soon to be broadcast, The C-Word(BBC), starring Sheridan Smith.