Michael Carter’s earliest role was in the Doctor Who serial The Mind of Evil (1971), in which he played a UNIT soldier and a prisoner. He made his film debut in An American Werewolf in London(1981) as London Underground passenger Gerald Bringsley who is killed by the werewolf.
In 1983, Carter portrayed Bib Fortuna in Return of the Jedi (1983). He had come to the attention of casting director Mary Selway, who saw him perform in a musical in the West End theatre section of London in the early 1980s. Director Richard Marquand had also seen and enjoyed Carter’s theater work, and wanted to cast him as Fortuna; Marquand, who described Carter as a “terrific actor”, was drawn to him for the role because he wanted Fortuna to be very tall, and Carter was about six feet tall.
Carter had never seen the original Star Wars film, and had only seen the sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, because he was working at the time in a theater production with Anthony Daniels, who played C-3PO in the film.
Following his appearance in Return of the Jedi, Carter was offered several alien roles or parts that involved heavy amounts of prosthetics. For example, he was cast in the role of Radu Molasar, a monster and warlord in the Michael Mann film The Keep (1983), as a direct result of his work in Return of the Jedi. Carter was offered the opportunity to reprise the role of Bib Fortuna in the prequel The Phantom Menace, but he declined due to the rigors associated with the makeup application.
He co-wrote the 1991 film One Man’s War starring Anthony Hopkins.
On stage Carter has appeared at the National Theatre, in the West End, and in Broadway theatre.
His appearances on television include Rebus with both John Hannah and Ken Stott, and Taggart. He starred as the polygynist husband of Brenda Fricker and Josette Simon in the 1992 TV mini-series Seekers, and as Tulloch, head of the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service in Thames TV’s seven part series Call Red. Carter created the role of Douglas Raeburn in twenty two episodes of BBC Scotland’s Two Thousand Acres of Sky.
He has performed voice work in the video games Demon’s Souls, and Dark Souls.
Most recently, he portrayed Jaehaerys I Targaryen in HBO’s House of the Dragon.