Michael was born on December 29, 1964, in Long Island. He grew up in New Jersey along with his parents in a jewish family.
As a child, he had a keen interest in acting and also began to learn and act from the early age. He got his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts in 1990.
His first acting role was in the 1989 film Crystal Ball, playing Scottie.
- Cudlitz had a large mole removed from his right upper lip. The mole had previously been a signature feature of the actor's appearance.
- Cudlitz returned in Season 9 to direct the episode Stradivarius.