Detroit-born Michael Moriarty was still in his teens when he received a Fulbright Fellowship to study acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. At 22, Moriarty played Octavius Caesar in a New York Shakespeare Festival production of Antony and Cleopatra, the first of many Shakespearean assignments. He made his Broadway bow in Trial of the Catonsville 9 and his film debut in 1972's Hickey and Boggs. In 1973 and 1974, no one was a likelier candidate for big-time stardom than Michael Moriarty. He starred as ingratiatingly egotistical ballplayer Henry Wiggen in theatrical feature Bang the Drum Slowly (1973), earned an Emmy for his portrayal of the Gentleman Caller in a TV adaptation of The Glass Menagerie, and won the Tony award for his work in the Broadway play Find Your Way Home. While his stage career flourished (he'd later star in well-received revivals of The Caine Mutiny Court Martial and My Fair Lady) his movie career was not as successful. It was television that made Moriarty a "name" in the eyes of the public, especially after his chillingly effective Emmy-winning turn as pasty-faced Nazi bureaucrat Erik Dorf in the 1978 miniseries Holocaust. In his film appearances of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Moriarty evinced a preference for working in director Larry Cohen's low-budget horror efforts, which brought little in the way of prestige but which assured him juicy leading roles. He was particularly good in Cohen's Q (1982), as a scuzzy, unprincipled mercenary who becomes the film's hero-by-default. From 1990 to 1994, Moriarty earned three Emmy nominations for his work as Assistant DA Ben Stone in TV's Law and Order; he left the series in 1995, complaining that Attorney General Janet Reno's criticisms of TV violence seriously endangered his ability to perform at fullest capacity. In addition to his considerable acting accomplishments, Moriarty is a superb jazz pianist; he has cut albums with his own jazz trio, and is a frequent performer at Michael's Pub, a New York nitery which occasionally features director Woody Allen on the clarinet. In addition, Michael Moriarty can be seen as the Governor of New Jersey in Crime of the Century, a 1996 TV-movie recreation of the Bruno Richard Hauptmann trial.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Both of his parents attended the same college, University of Minnesota, which is where they met.
- Worked selling encyclopedias and tyres.
- College roomate of actor and director Stephen Macht.
- Moved to Canada after leaving Law & Order in 1994.
- A former student of Stella Adler.
- Has had poems published in the New York Quarterly.
- A semi-professional jazz pianist and singer.