His first notable appearance was as Chris Blaine in William Fruet's masterful 10-part miniseries Chasing Rainbows (1988). Riley's breakthrough role was that of the cross-dressing brewery employee Renzo Parachi in Yves Simoneau's fanciful cult favourite, Perfectly Normal (1991).
Michael RileyMichael Riley, actor (b at London, Ont 4 Feb 1962). Michael Riley became interested in acting as a student at Lord Elgin High School in Burlington, Ont., where he showed clear promise. He studied at the NATIONAL THEATRE SCHOOL in Montréal and graduated in 1984. His ability to play articulate, cool-headed characters kept him working steadily in his chosen vocation.
His first notable appearance was as Chris Blaine in William Fruet's masterful 10-part miniseries Chasing Rainbows (1988). Riley's breakthrough role was that of the cross-dressing brewery employee Renzo Parachi in Yves Simoneau's fanciful cult favourite, Perfectly Normal (1991). He was nominated for a best supporting actor GENIE AWARD for the part of Les Oberfell in the political drama Diplomatic Immunity (1991), and for a best leading actor GEMINI AWARD for his role in the Canadian/American miniseries To Catch a Killer (1992), an award he won 3 years later for The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios (1995). Riley finished off the decade with roles in films as wide-ranging as the full-out slapstick Dogmatic (1996), the ultra-violent Pale Saints (1997), and a stark drama about Alberta's forced sterilization experiments, Heart of the Sun (1998). He earned his second Genie nomination for best supporting actor as the mentally handicapped gangster Dody in Pale Saints.
In 1999, Michael Riley won the lead in the Canadian series Power Play as the well-dressed, arrogant sports agent Brett Parker who moves back to his hometown to run a struggling NHL franchise. Riley's smart but morally ambiguous Parker earned him back-to-back Gemini awards for best dramatic actor in 1999 and 2000. The role of Elliot Sacks, love interest to lawyer Alice De Raey in the hit CBC comedy/drama This is Wonderland, resulted in a Gemini award for best actor in 2005. He appeared as Harry Stein in the miniseries St. Urbain's Horseman (2007) and in the lightly serious dramatic fantasy Being Erica he plays Dr. Tom, a mystical therapist who transports the show's female protagonist into her past.
Despite his extraordinary success with recurring characters on episodic television, Michael Riley is seen in many interesting feature films for both the big screen and television. He won a Gemini Award for best actor for the television movie The Interrogation of Michael Crowe (2002) and is featured in Carl Bessai's Normal (2007).