The Truth Behind Our Obsession With True Crime Stories
Your next true crime addiction is here.
The Staircase, which is inspired by the real-life story of acclaimed author Michael Peterson and the suspicious death of his wife Kathleen, promises a chilling dramatization of events in a new trailer released April 21.
In the trailer, when Peterson, played by Colin Firth, is accused of murdering Kathleen, played by Toni Collette, he calls it “a witch hunt” as his family and North Carolina hometown attempt to make sense of what actually happened. Kathleen was found at the bottom of the staircase in the family’s home in 2001.
Firth’s Peterson does all he can to keep his five children on his side.
“I think there are not many families like us,” he says in the trailer. “We’re not perfect, but we stick together. And we love each other.”
Sophie Turner, who plays Peterson’s daughter Margaret, urges the family to stand by their father. “Dad has been there for us always,” she says. “Stop questioning everything. Just stop.”
The series also analyzes the death of Elizabeth Ratliff, Peterson’s first wife who was also found dead at the bottom of a staircase in1985 Peterson was never formally charged in her death.
“It was 25 years ago and nothing happened,” Firth’s Peterson says sternly in the trailer.
Peterson’s story rose to prominence with a documentary series, also called The Staircase, which was originally released in 2004 and garnered new attention when it was added to Netflix—complete with three additional episodes—in 2018.
The documentary series followed the Peterson family during Peterson’s murder trial in2003 Peterson was eventually convicted of murdering Kathleen at his original trial, though eight years later, a new trial was granted after a judge ruled a prosecution witness offered misleading testimony.
In 2017, Peterson accepted an Alford plea—for which a defendant claims their innocence but acknowledges there’s enough evidence for a jury to convict—to the charge of manslaughter and was freed from prison for time served.
Courtesy of HBO Max
The Staircase also stars Michael Stuhlbarg, Dane DeHaan, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Juliette Binoche, Rosemarie DeWitt and Parker Posey.
The first three episodes will be available to stream May 5 on HBO Max.
Behind the scenes drama? What do I watch next? Click here to get all the TV scoop straight in your inbox.