Born in Heidelberg, Germany on 2 April, 1977 Michael’s parents moved the family to Fossa, near Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland when he was two years old. Michael’s primary education was at the Fossa National School then on to secondary school at St. Brendans College in Killarney where his parents, Josef and Adele, owned and ran the beautiful West End House Restaurant. They have since retired, still owning the West End House they have leased it to new management and it has been renovated.
After attending a drama and comedy class run by Donie Courtney, Michael started acting when he was 16. Courtney eventually offered Michael parts with his theatre group, Bricriu, and Michael subsequently attended the Drama Centre of London, training in the theatre and acting arts.
some television parts. More attention and varied roles came after he was cast in the epic Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks’ Band of Brothers, playing Sgt. Burton ‘Pat’ Christenson. Following the production, Michael was cast in many UK television series and movies, including Gunpowder, Treason and Plot starring as the notorious Guy Fawkes and the teen supernatural drama Hex as the fallen angel ‘Azazeal’ who bewitches the main character, Cassie (Christina Cole). Next came A Bear Named Winnie, the true story of how Canadian Lt. Harry Colebourn brings a bear to London en route to war and thus sparks the famous children’s stories of ‘Winnie the Pooh’. Michael also guest-starred in three episodes of Murphy’s Law as Caz Miller, as George Abernathie in Poirot: After the Funeral, and in http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0475412/ as a defense barrister.
At the age of 17, Michael produced, directed and performed in a stage version of Quentin Tarantino’s http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105236/ in his hometown of Killarney. Continuing his stage experience in 1999 with his role as Fedotik in the Oxford Stage Company’s [now known as Headlong Theatre] production of Chekhov’s The Three Sisters. He then starred alongside legendary Mel Smith in Allegiance, a play about Winston Churchill and Michael Collins in the 2006 Edinburgh Festival. He has expressed an interest of balancing theatre and film experience where each compliments the other in the real world.
2007 marked a milestone year in Michael’s career with the release of Frank Miller’s 300. Michael garnered praise for his rendition of the warrior Spartan Stelios, and the epic adventure and box office hit catapulted him into the Hollywood spotlight and gave him a chance to complete stunt work with a grueling training schedule. Michael also starred alongside Romolo Garai, Sam Neill, and Charlotte Rampling in French director Francois Ozon’s first English production, Angel. However, it was as Irish republican hunger striker Bobby Sands in Steve McQueen’s Hunger that Michael would really make is mark. With staggering intensity and commitment, he lost over 14kgs (31lbs) to convincingly depict Sands’ decline. Michael’s dedication was rewarded by a wave of critical acclaim, a memorable lauding as the ‘Brando for Britain’, and numerous acting prizes at a variety of international film festivals- culminating in the best actor prize at the Irish Film & Television Awards. After he smoldered as the teen heroine’s off-limits love interest in Andrea Arnold’s kitchen sink drama Fish Tank, Michael was personally tapped by Quentin Tarantino for the role of British commando Lt. Archie Hicox in his WWII opus Inglourious Basterds. Michael has since returned to the battlefield in Neil Marshall’s Centurion in which he portrays a Roman warrior trapped behind enemy lines in dark age Britain and completed the comic book western Jonah Hex alongside Josh Brolin, John Malkovich and Megan Fox.
In 2011 we were given the extraordinary cinema experience with his wide range of roles as Mr. Rochester opposite Mia Wasikowska’s Jane in Cary Fukanaga’s Jane Eyre, as Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto in Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class with James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X. Then on to David Cronenberg’s Freud-Jung drama, A Dangerous Method starring with Viggo Mortensen and Keira Knightley. Finishing out the year with Director Steve McQueen’s outstanding film Shame
Filming is completed on Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, and Michael will next portray pioneering psychoanalyst Carl Jung opposite Viggo Mortensen’s Sigmund Freud in David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method. Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated Alien prequel Prometheus, starring Michael, Charlize Theron, and Noomi Repace will be released summer 2012.