A dark-haired, intense actor of Armenian descent, Michael Goorjian first got hired as a dancer for the short-lived musical comedy series "Hull High" (NBC, 1990) and the forgettable feature musical "Newsies" (1992). He also appeared in "Chaplin" (as Charles Chaplin Jr.) and "Forever Young" (both 1992) and earned a measure of success with a recurring role during the 1991-1992 season on the acclaimed ABC series "Life Goes On." He achieved his highest profile, however, for his Emmy-winning turn as an autistic teenager in the CBS telefilm "David's Mother" (1994), starring Kirstie Alley. Goorjian's commitment to the role was so complete that most of the crew believed he truly was autistic, and his amazingly authentic creation enabled him to beat out established pros like Alan Alda, Richard Gere, Ian McKellen and Matthew Broderick for the coveted statue. Added to the cast of the Fox drama "Party of Five" (1994-1999) as a suitor to Julia Salinger (Neve Campbell), he was popular enough to receive an upgrade from "recurring" character to series regular for the 1995-96 season. Goorjian harbored mixed feelings over the experience and opted not to sign a lucrative contract to become a series regular, relegating the character of Justin to and infrequent guest spots thereafter.
Cast against type, Goorjian played a college boy who participated in the rape of Elisabeth Shue's hooker Sera in "Leaving Las Vegas" (1995) but the performer opted to concentrate on more personal efforts. Retreating to his native Oakland, he made numerous unreleased films, ranging from shorts to features to documentaries (i.e., "Oakland Underground" which as of 1999 was still in post-production). Goorjian also sold a screenplay, "Waking the Magician" (which remains in development with the actor attached to direct) and continued to act in features if the roles appealed to him. He accepted the role of Kenny in "Hard Rain" (1998) more for the opportunity for a great onscreen death scene than anything else. In 1999, his career picked up somewhat with prominent roles in the independent features "SLC Punk!" and "The Invisibles." Sporting a mohawk as Heroin Bob, the best friend of blue-haired Stevo (Matthew Lillard) in the former, he had a meaty supporting role as an anti-drug anarchist exploring the punk scene in Salt Lake City, while the latter cast him as a drug-abusing rock star who romances an equally addicted model (Portia de Rossi).
Cast (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made series debut as a regular on the short-lived "Hull High" (NBC)
With fellow UCLA students formed the Buffalo Nights Theatre Company
Played recurring role as Ray Nelson in the ABC drama "Life Goes On"
TV-movie debut, "Never Forget" (TNT)
Feature film debut as Skittery in "Newsies"; also appeared in s "Chaplin" (as Charles Chaplin Jr) and "Forever Young"
Won an Emmy Award (over such exalted competition as Alan Alda, Richard Gere, Ian McKellen and Matthew Broderick) for his breakthrough role as an autistic youth in the CBS movie "David's Mother"
Played Justin Thompson, boyfriend of Julia (Neve Campbell), on the Fox series "Party of Five"; role made regular for the 1995-1996 season only
Cast against type as a bad guy who participates in the rape of Elisabeth Shue in "Leaving Las Vegas"
Sold first script "Waking the Magician"; attached to direct
Delivered memorable death scene as Kenny in "Hard Rain"
Directed first feature, the documentary "Oakland Underground" (still in post-production as of 1999)
Starred as Dr. Peter Hamilton in UPN movie "Life in a Day"
Starred as heroin-addicted rocker opposite Portia de Rossi's equally-addicted fashion model in "The Invisibles", a black-and-white indie premiering at the Sundance Film Festival
Played Heroin Bob, the mohawked best bud of blue-haired Stevo (Matthew Lillard) in "SLC Punk!", a look at the spike-haired rebelliousness of Salt Lake City's punk scene in the mid-1980s
Choreographed the L.A. stage production "Reefer Madness"
Cast in Showtime's "Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical," the musical comedy adaptation of the classic 1936 anti-marijuana propaganda film
Wrote directed and co-starred with Kirk Douglas in "The Illusion" a film based on a french play