While in school, he studied drama with Rita Maas-Phillips. After completing high school, Michael did his two years compulsory National Service as an infantryman in the South African Defence Force in Potchefstroom. After a number of part-time jobs (including being a waiter and a chef) he decided to become a full-time actor and singer.
Over the past thirty years, Michael has performed in more than 80 local and international television series, shorts and feature films. He began his official career in 1993, playing the role of Thomas in an adaptation of The Gospel According to Matthew. In 1996, he also had a recurring role on Egoli: Place of Gold, a long-running South African soap opera.
Michael's first relevant American role came in 2005 when he landed the support lead in Dean Devlin's Emmy-winning mini-series The Triangle. Also, in 2008 he joined the cast of 24 playing French UN worker, Charles Solenz, in 24: Redemption. The New York Post singled out Michael's performance saying that his character "might be the most spineless, loathsome character ever created for this show."
The following year, he played the lead in Animal Planet's TV special Mermaids: The Body Found, which scored the highest viewership ratings for the channel since 2003. He appeared in HBO's Golden Globe nominated film The Girl and the Emmy-nominated Strike Back series. He also worked opposite Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds in Universal’s Safe House. In 2013, he starred opposite Oscar winner William Hurt in BBC Films' Royal Television Society's film, The Challenger, about the space shuttle disaster. He then started work on season 1 of Black Sails. The show received several Emmy Awards. The second season premiered in January 24, 2015.