Almereyda studied art history at Harvard but dropped out after three years to pursue filmmaking. He acquired a Hollywood agent on the strength of a spec script about Nikola Tesla. His first film as writer/director was a self-financed, black-and-white short featuring Dennis Hopper, A Hero of Our Time, based on Mikhail Lermontov's novel of the same title. Shot in 1985, it was finished in 1987 and screened in the 1992 Sundance Film Festival.
Almereyda's films range across many genres, styles, and formats. His first feature, Twister (1989), based on Mary Robison’s novel Oh, was a comedy about a dysfunctional mid-Western family. Another Girl Another Planet (1992) was a romantic chamber piece, a black-and-white, one-hour featurette shot with a Fisher-Price Pixelvision camera.
Hamlet (2000) was shot on Super 16mm and featured Ethan Hawke, Bill Murray, Kyle MacLachlan, Julia Stiles, Liev Schreiber and Sam Shepard. The adaptation layered a contemporary New York setting on Shakespeare's text.
Almereyda directed features set in pre- and post-Katrina New Orleans: Happy Here and Now (2002) and New Orleans, Mon Amour (2008). In 2004, he directed an episode of the HBO series Deadwood, His most recent work has mainly involved documentaries and shorts.
He has recently returned to fiction film with a 2013 adaptation of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, a spiritual successor to his earlier Hamlet. Experimenter (2015), was based on the life of Stanley Milgram, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and received critical acclaim. Marjorie Prime (2017), a philosophical science-fiction film based on Jordan Harrison's play of the same name, again screened at Sundance and won the Sloan Feature Film Prize. Most recently, he has directed a documentary on Hampton Fancher and adapted his Tesla spec script into a 2020 film of the same name.
Almereyda edited and contributed texts for Night Wraps the Sky: Writings by and About Mayakovsky, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2008, and William Eggleston: For Now, published by Twin Palms in 2010.
Almereyda frequently uses the same actors. He has worked more than once with Suzy Amis, Karl Geary, Jared Harris, Ethan Hawke, Kyle MacLachlan, Isabelle Gillies, John Leguizamo, Lois Smith, Hannah Gross, and Jim Gaffigan.
- Leland, Erin (March 25, 2020). "Binge Watch This: Director Michael Almereyda is the Avant-Garde Historian and Storyteller We Need". Cultured Magazine. Retrieved July 22, 2020.
In 1980, Almereyda dropped out of Harvard in order to craft his first screenplay for Tesla.
- "Gotham Awards Nominations Announced Archived 2014-03-14 at the Wayback Machine", Filmmaker (magazine). Accessed 8 August 2014.
- "'Brokeback,' 'Capote' Get Gotham Award Nods", Fox News Channel. Accessed 8 August 2014.
- "Sloan Science & Film". scienceandfilm.org. Retrieved 2017-02-03.
- "Creative Capital – Investing in Artists who Shape the Future". creative-capital.org. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
- Michael Almereyda on IMDb
- Fleeting Joy A website devoted to Almereyda's work.
- Michael Almereyda by Jeremiah Kipp, Senses of Cinema website
- King of Infinite Space, Filmmaker Magazine, Winter 1999