HBO Max is adapting the true-crime docuseries “The Staircase” into a scripted limited series that will star Colin Firth as American novelist Michael Peterson, who was on trial in 2001 for killing his wife.
The writer claimed that his wife died at their home after falling down the stairs, but a medical examiner determined that she had been bludgeoned to death, turning Peterson into a murder suspect. Peterson was convicted in 2003 of murdering Kathleen Peterson and spent eight years in prison. In 2011, he was granted a new trial, but before it could start, he submitted to an Alford plea to the reduced charge of manslaughter. He was sentenced to time already served and was set free.
The original docuseries, directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, was released in 2004 and updated with information in 2013 and again in 2018, when it was released as a Netflix documentary.
Antonio Campos will direct six of the eight episodes and co-write the series with Maggie Cohn. It will a co-production between HBO Max and Annapurna Television.
Here is how HBO Max describes its scripted adaptation: “Adapting the true crime docuseries ‘The Staircase’ and various books and reports on the case, ‘The Staircase’ is an exploration of the life of Michael Peterson, his sprawling North Carolina family, and the suspicious death of his wife, Kathleen Peterson.”
“This has been a project I have been working on in one way or another since 2008,” Campos said. “It’s been a long and winding road, but well worth the wait to be able to find partners like HBO Max, Annapurna, co-showrunner Maggie Cohn and the incredible Colin Firth to dramatize such a complex true-life story.”
A scripted adaptation of “The Staircase” had been in active development at Annapurna since 2019 and at one point had Harrison Ford attached to star and executive produce.