Michael French (born 17 September 1962 in Bow, East London) is an English actor.
French was born Michael Clark to parents David (a greengrocer) and Sheila in East London, but grew up in Essex.
He was soon appearing in school productions, while weekends and evenings were spent at dancing classes and rehearsals for shows put on by the local drama club.
At the age of 20 French landed a job as an entertainer (blue coat) at the Holiday Club International in Majorca.
When he returned to Britain aged 22 French got his first acting break in the musical Godspell at the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford, Essex. Bit parts on stage followed, including playing the Genie in Aladdin in a Christmas pantomime. Read Full Bio >>
He spent the next three years touring in small productions, before becoming disillusioned with his lack of success and taking a job as an Air Steward for British Airways.
Unable to get the acting bug out of his system, French quit his job as a steward and took up acting lessons. He was trained at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and graduated in 1992.
After graduating from acting school, French was primarily employed in West End musicals. He was in West Side Story, Chicago, Joseph — playing romantic juvenile leads — and then played Javert in Les Misérables.
French is probably best known for appearing in the BBC soap opera EastEnders. French was spotted by an EastEnders casting agent whilst on stage in the musical Les Miserables. He was subsequently offered a role in the popular soap opera and first appeared in 1993, playing the womanising car-dealer, David Wicks. French quit the soap in 1996 amid a press furore regarding his sexuality, which he allegedly felt compromised his position as the show's heart-throb. 19 million viewers tuned in to watch the character's exit from Albert Square.
Other regular TV roles include Nick Jordan in Casualty (1998) and its sister programme, Holby City (1999-2000; 2005-2006); The Fabulous Bagel Boys (2001); Gary Lescott in Dalziel and Pascoe (2005); Jeff Slade in Crime Traveller (1997) and Tom Gilder in Born and Bred (2001-2004).
Among his other stage credits include Art (2000) as Marc and Sacred Heart (1999) as Jerry. He also replaced John Barrowman as Billy Flynn in the London run of Chicago from 13 December 2004, but resigned suddenly on 2 May 2005 amid rumours of differences with his co-star Brooke Shields.
On 13 May 2008 it was confirmed Michael French would be returning to his role Nick Jordan for a third stint, but this time as a regular in Casualty.
In 1996 French was publicly "outed" as a homosexual by the Sunday Mirror. According to the newspaper, French had been in a secret gay relationship with the actor Bryan Lawrence and had also been involved in many prior homosexual flings, which he wanted kept from the public. French and Lawrence — the son of ex-Fulham footballer Bill Williams — had worked together on a stage show in 1984 and were reunited 12 years later on the set of EastEnders, where Lawrence had a minor role as a policeman. The tabloid's "outing" of French has been widely criticised by gay activists, including Peter Tatchell, who brandished the Sunday Mirror's story "prejudiced and sensationalist" and accused the paper of "exposing his sexual orientation in a way that suggested being gay was sordid and shameful".
Several months after being outed, French was again involved in another press scandal after the Sunday Mirror reported on an alleged affair between him and the married actress Lindsey Coulson, who played his on-screen lover, Carol Jackson, in EastEnders. In addition, it was alleged that French also claimed to have been involved in a homosexual relationship with Coulson's husband, the agent Phillip Chard, circa 1983. Chard denies the affair and believes that French made up the allegation to deliberately wreck his marriage after he rejected his homosexual advances. Chard is reported to have cited Coulson's alleged adultery with French in their divorce suit and went on to write a book which contained information on French's alleged drug use, homosexual advances and affair with his ex-wife. Coulson has denied the affair took place.
In 2004 French was given a six month driving ban after he was caught speeding. << Less Bio