Placido's father is from Rionero in Vulture, and is a descendant of the famous bandit Carmine Crocco. After studying acting at the Accademia d' Arte Drammatica in Rome, he had his stage debut in 1969 in a production by the Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto. He had ladre in Carlo Di Palma Teresa la (1973) and Lucio De Caro Processo per direttissima (1974 ) First film appearances. From 1975 he turned away from comedy genre and played primarily in socially critical film dramas that played in the south of Italy, like Marcia trionfale ( 1976) by Marco Bellocchio and Tre fratelli (1981 ) by Francesco Rosi. He achieved international fame through the role of the Commissioner Corrado Cattani in the successful Italian television series La piovra in which he fights as a police officer single-handedly against the Mafia. After four years, he retired from the series and tied with Marco Risi Mery per semper (1989 ) in the role of a teacher prison in Palermo back to his work in the socio - critical neo-realist movie. In 1994, he appeared in Gianni Amelio's award-winning film Lame Rica.
In 1990, Michele Placido made his debut as a film director with Pummarò who represented the living conditions of illegal immigrants in Italy. His second film, Le amiche del cuore (1992 ) - an incest story - gained wide attention.
In 1979, Placido received for his role as a gay workers in Ernesto at the 1979 Berlinale Silver Bear for Best Actor. For La piovra he was in 1984 awarded the Golden Gong and 1989 honored with a Bambi. In 2009 he received an invitation to the competition of the 66th Venice Film Festival for his feature film Il grande sogno.