After joining the National Theatre, under the Artistic Directorship of Sir Laurence Olivier, Michael went on to appear in a number of leading roles in plays written by Alan Ayckbourn. His career was catapulted in 1980 when he took the lead role in John Dexter's production of Galileo. Since then Michael has regularly appeared at the Royal National Theatre and the RSC. Roles include, King Lear, Othello, Mark Anthony and Volpone. He was described by the late Sir Ralph Richardson as being 'The Great Gambon' and he is now considered to be one of the British theatre's leading lights.