Michael Cerveris graduated from Yale University with cum laude honors in 1983. He began his career on stage, making his debut in a staging of Macbeth. His Broadway debut came in 1993, when he played a major role in the rock musical The Who's Tommy; he earned a Theatre World Award and a Tony nomination for the role.
Cerveris established himself as a versatile stage actor, appearing in numerous Broadway plays and musicals. In 2004, his stint in the Stephen Sondheim musical Assassins earned him a Tony Award. He also played the lead role in the West End staging of Hedwig and the Angry Itch.
Apart from the stage, Cerveris appeared in several films and television programs: he was part of the cast of the 1986 TV series Fame, and later held a recurring role in the Fox sci-fi series Fringe. He has also dabbled in a musical career, releasing his debut album, Dog Eared, in 2004.
- He saw his first Broadway musical, Sweeney Todd, when he was 18 and he attributes his desire to become an actor to seeing that show. He enjoyed it so much that he saw the show 6 more times.
- His father told Michael and his siblings when they were young that they each had to play an instrument for at least a year. Michael chose the violin, played it for a few months, then quit in favor of the "cooler" guitar.
- His brother is actor Todd Cerveris. They appeared on stage together in the 2004 off-Broadway play The Booth Variations.
- Theatre World Award, 1993 (for The Who's Tommy)
- Tony Award, Best Featured Actor in a Musical, 2004 (for Assassins)
- Strangers (1990)
- Steel and Lace (1991)
- Rock 'n' Roll High School Forever (1991)
- A Woman, Her Men, and Her Futon (1997)
- Lulu on the Bridge (1998)
- The Mexican (2001)
- Lunchtime Thomas (2001)
- Temptation (2004)
- Meskada (2010)
- Stake Land (2010)
- Fame (regular, 1986-1987)
- The American Embassy (regular, 2002)
- Fringe (recurring, 2008-present)
"Anyone who finds a murdering barber sexy is someone you gotta be kinda nervous about, but I'm grateful for any attention."
"I guess it's good advertising for my barber skills if I shave myself well. I've been shaving my head since 'Tommy' [in 1993] because I wore a wig all the time; it was so much more comfortable to have it shaved."
"I've thought of quitting acting at least a dozen times. And that's matched by the other dozen of times when I think, 'They'll figure out that I really don't have any talent. My career's over.' Even after winning the Tony for 'Assassins', I wondered, 'Maybe this is it.'"
"I do feel pressure. I have always been able to surprise people because they didn't know to expect anything from me. And now people are starting to have expectations. They're not necessarily expectations that I plan to satisfy."
"I told my agents, This time I'm serious, I don't want to do another musical for a long time. Though I would do Sondheim, I never expected I would get to."