Michael Moriarty is an American actor best known for his role as Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Stone on the television drama series Law & Order, appearing in 88 episodes from 1990-1994.
He also played the recurring role of Michael Kelly in PSI Factor: Chronicles Of The Paranormal, and starred in the pilot of the sci-fi series The 4400 (although his character was cut from the series once it was picked up).
Other television shows he has appeared in include Cagney & Lacey; The Twilight Zone; Touched By An Angel; The Outer Limits; The Dead Zone; Just Cause; and Masters Of Horror.
Feature films he has appeared in include Q (1982), Pale Rider (1985), A Return to Salem's Lot (1987), Courage Under Fire (1996), Shiloh (1996), The Art of Murder (1999), Bad Faith (2000), Mindstorm (2001), Along Came a Spider (2001), and Neverwas (2005).
Moriarty, an Irish-American, was born in Detroit, Michigan to Elinor Paul and George Moriarty, a police surgeon. His grandfather, George Moriarty, had been a third baseman, umpire and manager in the major leagues for nearly 40 years.
He attended the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, and then matriculated at Dartmouth College in the class of 1963, where he was a theatre major.
After he received his degree, he left for London, where he enrolled in the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, after receiving a Fulbright Scholarship.
In 1973, Moriarty was cast to play the egocentric Henry Wiggen in Bang the Drum Slowly, a film about friendship between two unlikely baseball teammates (the second being Robert De Niro, a slow thinking catcher who becomes terminally ill).
In the same year, Moriarty starred in a TV movie adaptation of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie with Katharine Hepburn. Coincidentally, the film also featured Sam Waterston (who replaced Moriarty as the Executive Assistant District Attorney on Law & Order in 1994.)
Moriarty's role in Menagerie won him an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor and Supporting Actor of the Year.
He won a Tony Award in 1974 for his work in Find Your Way Home.
Moriarty's career on the screen was slow to develop, while his theatre career was flourishing. He starred as a Nazi bureaucrat who degenerates into a coldblooded murderer in the television miniseries Holocaust (which earned him another Emmy).
Through the 1980s, Moriarty starred in such Larry Cohen movies as Q, The Stuff, It's Alive 3, and A Return to Salem's Lot, as well as Clint Eastwood's Pale Rider and Hanoi Hilton.
From 1990 to 1994, Moriarty starred as Benjamin Stone on Law & Order. He left the show in 1994, alleging that his departure was a result of his threatening a lawsuit against then-Attorney General Janet Reno, who had cited Law & Order as offensively violent.
Moriarty was repulsed by what he saw as an attempt by the Federal Government to censor TV content by pressuring network executives. He claimed that not only did Janet Reno want to censor shows like Law and Order but also such innocuous fare as Murder, She Wrote.
In his account of what occurred, he was deeply upset that his objections to this move on the part of the government was not only not taken seriously by Law & Order executive producer Dick Wolf, but that Wolf and other network executives seemed to be caving into the unreasonable unwarranted demands of the Attorney General on this issue of "TV violence".
Moriarty published a full page advertisement in a Hollywood trade magazine, calling upon fellow artists to stand up with him against this attempt to censor TV show content and was rocked to his foundations when Hollywood did not seem to notice or take care of the alarm bells he was trying to ring on this issue.
He subsequently wrote and published The Gift Of Stern Angels, a book about his account of this time in his life.
Dick Wolf and others working on Law & Order tell a different story, however. On November 18, 1993, Moriarty and Wolf, along with other television executives, met with Reno to dissuade her from supporting any law that would censor the show.
According to Wolf, Moriarty greatly overreacted to the threat that any planned law was likely to have on the show. Law & Order producers claim they were forced to remove Moriarty from the series because of erratic behavior that it imposable for him to fill his roll.
One example happened during the filming of the episode "Breeder" when, according to the episodes director Arthur Forney, he was unable to delivers his lines with a strait face.
Series and network officials deny any connection to his departure and Janet Reno. Wolf also denies that the show has become less violent, graphic or afraid of controversy since 1994.
Shortly after leaving Law & Order, Moriarty moved to Canada, declaring himself a political exile. He lived for a time in Halifax, where he was granted Canadian citizenship, and Toronto before settling in Vancouver.
He performed in Courage Under Fire, Along Came a Spider, Shiloh, Emily of New Moon and James Dean, for which he won his third Emmy.
In addition to his acting career, Moriarty is a semi-professional jazz pianist and singer, as well as a classical composer. He has recorded three jazz albums (though the first, "Reaching Out", went unreleased), and has performed live regularly in both New York and Vancouver, with a jazz trio and quintet.
In a 1990 concert review, New York Times reviewer Stephen Holden called Moriarty "a jazz pianist of considerable skill, an oddball singer with more than one vocal personality, and a writer of eccentric, jivey jazz songs".
Moriarty lives in British Columbia, where he still acts, writes and plays music, and has become politically active, describing himself as a "centrist". According to Moriarty's own writings on the subject, he describes himself as a "realist".
Apparently one of his most passionately held beliefs is his opposition to abortion. For example, in response to a recent interview question as to what the most pressing issue facing the nation was, he said:
"We will find abortion and the despotic Roe v. Wade Decision revealing itself as a virtual burning of the Declaration of Independence and our 'inalienable right to life...when created'. So, the pressing issue will, inevitably, be the Third Millennium's version of American slavery: ABORTION."
Moriarty announced his intention to run for President of the United States in 2008 in an interview in the November 2005 issue of Northwest Jazz Profile. He has also been a frequent contributor of numerous political columns to the ESR (Enter Stage Right) online Journal of Conservativism.
A website devoted to Moriarty, MMUUUHP (the "Michael Moriarty Unofficial, Unauthorized, Unsanctioned Home Page"), contains editorials by Moriarty, and these, in addition to posts on ESR, contain scathing denunciations of a wide array of eclectic targets, including Bill Clinton, Thanaticism, abortion, embryonic stem cell research, anti-Catholicism, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, George W. Bush, both major U.S. political parties, Halliburton, the College of Cardinals, and most of Catholic theology. Historically, he has been a supporter of the Republican Party.
A recent interview contains the following quotes by Moriarty:
"Like the collaborating Vichy government in France under the Nazis, America will surrender to laws and ideologies that contradict the American Constitution and the most simple Human Rights. The Supreme Court took a once individually free nation and corrupted it by the lie of Science that fetuses are, in their first two trimesters, no more than egg yolk.
"Ultimately, our American Intellectual Supremacists bought the 'Population Problem,' in the same way Europe fell under the thrall of the so-called 'Jewish Problem.'"
"Islam, in and of itself, however, is an Allah-worshipping, Kamikaze Nation, exactly like pre-World War II Imperial Japan. Its Bible, the Koran, can be read like Hitler's Mein Kampf. It demands to rule the entire human race. Islam's only idea of freedom of religion is the freedom of Islam to rule everything.
"Islamic Political Parties should be no more trusted than neo-Nazi, White Supremacists and David Duke of the Ku Klux Klan have been trusted. Tragically, the only language Islam, like Hirohito's Japan, understands is violence. The measures Harry Truman took to end the war with Japan may prove tragically necessary with Islam."
On the blog Enter Stage Right Moriarty writes that he was a "very bad drunk", but that as of May 29, 2006 he had been sober for two years.