A week after expressing his unhappiness with HBO Max’s The Staircase—which fictionalizes and dramatizes the death of his wife Kathleen, and his subsequent trial and imprisonment for her murder—Michael Peterson has given a more full interview about his unhappiness with the series (and with the decision to have Colin Firth play him).
This is per Variety, which talked this week with Peterson, currently a free man after submitting an Alford plea (in legal terms, a guilty plea in which the defendant continues to assert their innocence) in 2017 for manslaughter in regards to Kathleen’s death in 2001, after previously having served several years in prison after being convicted in 2003. In the interview, Peterson—who previously criticized documentarian Jean-Xavier de Lestrade (also unhappy with the HBO Max show) for “pimping out” his life story to nu-Staircase showrunner Antonio Campos—expressed his continued unhappiness with the show’s depiction of his kids (despite not having actually seen it).
“I might be a public figure,” Peterson notes up-top, “But my children are not. They are innocent bystanders who years ago helped make a documentary [about me]. So I’m just really annoyed.” When asked if he still would have consented to De Lestrade’s request, to film him and his family while under investigation for his wife’s death 20 years ago—spawning a decent chunk of the true crime genre in the process via the resulting docuseries, also titled The Staircase—Peterson asserts that no one could have known how far it would all go: “Nobody knew how this was going to explode. I would have left it to my kids, as I did leave it to them to decide if they wanted to participate. They all volunteered to say something because they love me. I didn’t understand how hurt they would be by helping me.”
Peterson said he watched about a minute of the show’s trailer before shutting it off, although he expresses his unhappiness with what he’s heard about how Kathleen and his children are portrayed. He also agrees with a question about whether the show’s explanation of his alleged motive for murder—Kathleen discovering that he was bisexual, and having sexual relationships with men during their marriage—was homophobic. (“Creating a false and fictional sexual reason for me to kill her is disgustingly homophobic as well as wrong, as proven in court.”)
And, yes, Peterson weighs in on Firth, who’s mostly garnered strong reviews for his portrayal of the author:
He’s not my favorite actor. Get Brad Pitt! But to be fair, I haven’t seen his portrayal, but I heard he got [my] voice right and [my] mannerisms. But he didn’t capture my energy or my humor. To me, Colin’s a great actor but I can’t think of any roles that weren’t dull as dirt that he’s ever played and that’s fine. I’m not denigrating him, but I would have thought about talking to him. He said he wanted to do it himself — make his own creature, I thought, “What are you talking about? I’m the real person. If you want to know what I think and feel, read my book or talk to me.”