Michael was born and raised in the New York area. Originating as a New York City Ford Model, he moved to film and television at the early age of five where he guest starred on shows such as The Pretender, Seven Days, and Another World. Around the age of twelve Michael was receiving more complex roles and challenges, and is when Michael notes that he “really, truly started acting.” During this time he took a lead role in the television drama Cover Me, a show based on the true life of an FBI family. Most striking about this series was Michael’s performances, showing us how dynamic and diverse he could be at a young age.
Michael’s film career blossomed with critically acclaimed performances as Meryl Streep’s son Nick in Music of the Heart, young Red Pollard in Seabiscuit, and Almost Famous, where he played the younger version of the main character, William Miller, a teenage music fan who is inspired by the bands of the time and lands himself a magazine assignment to interview and follow a new band. A string of diverse roles followed including Disney’s Sky High, where Michael finds himself the son of two superheroes, mysteriously without any powers of his own. In Lords of Dogtown, Michael plays Sid, one of the legendary Z-Boys who pioneered the revival of skateboarding in the 1980s. Click HERE to see the Dogtown section.
In his late teens, Michael continued to take the lead in many films both independent and wide release. In the past few years Michael has turned out some incredible performances, starting with One Last Thing, in which plays the role of a young teen struggling with complications from cancer, and his pursuit to make his last wish come true.
Michael’s most recent films include Black Irish, in which he plays 15-year-old Cole McKay, a sweet-natured, baseball-loving, obedient teenager who yearns for the attentions of his emotionally remote father (Brendan Gleeson). Cole is by turns nurtured and abandoned by the rest of his family. In the true story of The Final Season, what’s destined to be baseball’s version of “Hoosiers,” Michael plays a high school baseball player on a team who comes together to beat all the odds and win their 20th state title in what becomes their final season. Man in the Chair centers around a 17-year-old kid who flirts with the law, underachieves at school, and is at odds with his loving mother and his constantly indifferent and derisive stepfather. Despite his flaws and problems, Michael’s character dreams to be the “man in the chair,” a cutting edge filmmaker, who is afforded a once in a lifetime opportunity. In Snow Angels, from acclaimed director David Gordon Green, Michael plays a teen dealing with the joy and confusion of first love. The tender relationship between Michael’s character (Arthur) and Olivia Thirlby (Lila) is at the heart of this groundbreaking film. The Forbidden Kingdom is the long-awaited collaboration between martial arts masters Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Mike plays a troubled 17-year-old wannabe kung fu warrior who, after a humiliating defeat at the hands of a street gang, is sent back in time to ancient China on an impossible mission to set free the imprisoned Monkey King and return to him his all-powerful staff. Awaiting release is The Bondage, in which he plays a youth who escapes an abusive home only to find himself shuffled into the juvenile justice system and then a psychiatric ward.
Now 21, Michael continues to take on challenging roles with some of today’s most esteemed actors. In Gentlemen Broncos, directed by Jared Hess, Mike plays an aspiring young author who attends a science fiction writers’ camp where he discovers his idea has been stolen by an established novelist. Michael’s “Snow Angels” co-star Sam Rockwell plays the lead character in Mike’s book. Writer/director Hess’ previous works include the acclaimed “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Nacho Libre.” From Rip Cord Productions, the film is due to be released in theaters later this year through Fox Searchlight.
Michael will soon be appearing in Ceremony, from first-time writer/director Max Winkler. Acclaimed producer Jason Reitman (“Juno”) oversees the project along with producer Daniel Dubiecki. In this surefire comedy hit, a woman is about to be married to her British suitor when an infatuated young admirer attempts to break up the wedding. He enlists his best friend (Michael) in the mission. Additional cast members are to be announced. Production begins later this year with a projected 2010 release date.
Michael appeared in the ever popular television action/drama 24 on FOX in 2007. He was seen in the first four episodes of season 6, playing the character of Scott.
Michael also recently ended filming on the long-running comedy Will and Grace. Michael, who plays Jack’s (Sean Hayes) son Elliott, came into the series as a 12-year-old boy who has spent several years searching for his real dad. Both on the screen as a father/son combination and off the screen as friends, Sean and Michael have hit it off. See the Appearance Schedule to find when you can see reruns of Michael in Will and Grace.
In spite of his very busy acting career, Michael maintains a remarkably normal life. He graduated from high school and is currently looking at colleges. Michael loves to play sports, hang out with his friends, go to movies, and other normal teen activities. Michael spends a decent amount of time in Los Angeles and on location, but still remains very close to his large family in New York, returning as often as he can.