HBO Max has ordered “The Staircase,” an eight-episode limited series starring Academy Award winner Colin Firth as American novelist Michael Peterson, who was convicted of murdering his wife Kathleen Peterson in 2003. Adapted from the eponymous true crime docu-series and various books and reports on the case, “The Staircase” is an exploration of the life of Peterson, his sprawling North Carolina family, and the suspicious death of his wife Kathleen.
The Max Original is a co-production between HBO Max and Annapurna Television. The project is set to be executive produced by showrunners Antonio Campos and Maggie Cohn, with Campos directing six of the eight episodes.
“This has been a project I have been working on in one way or another since 2008. 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,” wrote Campos in a statement with the release.
Campos is best known as the director of dramas “The Devil All the Time” (2020) and “Christine” (2016), as well as producer on the indie thriller “Martha Marcy May Marlene” (2011). Cohn was a producer on FX’s popular true crime series “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.”
The original documentary “The Staircase” was directed by French filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, who gained unique access to Peterson following Kathleen’s mysterious 2001 death in Durham, North Carolina. It followed closely as Peterson, a local figure and popular crime novelist, was accused of killing his wife Kathleen after she was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their home. A 16-year judicial battle followed.
The original series aired on France’s Canal+ and BBC 4 in the UK as well as on Sundance Channel in the US. Lestrade returned to the case a few years later for a three-part follow-up to the series, which aired on Netflix.
Colin Firth won an Oscar in 2011 for his portrayal of King George VI in Tom Hooper’s Best Picture winner “The King’s Speech.” “The Staircase” represents his most significant television role since playing Mr. Darcy in the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice.”