Michael was born in San Francisco to second-generation Chinese parents in 1950. He co-founded the Asian American Theater Company in San Francisco 1973 with some other actor colleagues. In 1975 he began getting guest television roles and has since appeared in over 110 TV shows and films.
He landed his biggest role in 2005 as Lieutenant Mike Tao, a main character in The Closer, where he was appeared in over 100 episodes. Beforehand he has had voiced a recurring character in 40 episodes of The PJs and was a lead in the short-lived CBS procedural Robbery Homicide Division.
He can also be seen in the films The Insider, Falling Down, Batman Forever, and Spy Game, among others.