Childhood performing included a professional magic act at the age of eight and a puppet show that ended in a pie fight at age nine! After becoming fascinated by The Muppet Show (1976), he knew that was the future for puppetry. He first met Jim Henson and his puppeteers as a fan in 1977, later visiting the set of “The Muppet Show”, bringing along homemade Muppet style puppets on a regular basis and learning and receiving much encouragement.
Upon leaving school, he directly landed his first job as a Muppeteer in 1980 on The Great Muppet Caper (1981), filling in on crowd scenes and doubling up for main characters. This directly led to building Podlings and Slaves for The Dark Crystal (1982) and then actually performing the Slavemaster Skeksis for the film.
Many Muppet and creature film and television projects followed, including the noteworthy character Nien Nunb on Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) and assisting Frank Oz with the evergreen lovable Yoda.
Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, whilst continuing with his puppeteering career, he joined forces with fellow puppetmaster David Alan Barclay to create Ultimate Animates, a production company created to experiment and develop new building and performing techniques for many of their own internal as well as external puppet productions.
A natural progression for Mike was to explore the use of computer graphic technologies to assist and to open up the performing and acting possibilities for his characters. By early 1997, he moved to San Francisco to become a character animator for Pixar after being impressed by their character work. Although he animated on A Bug’s Life (1998), his finest moment at Pixar was most definitely developing and animating on the 1950s style TV puppet show Woody’s Round Up on Toy Story 2 (1999).
His desire to go full circle took him next to George Lucas’s ILM, first animating the famed dinosaurs in Jurassic Park III (2001), then moving on to animate on Yoda along with many other creatures in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002).
Fresh from his time as an animator, he is busy acting on stage and screen and also once more puppeteering with The Muppets. He is also pursuing character voiceover work, and development on his own independent productions for future film and television projects.