Early 2000s nostalgia is showing no signs of stopping, and now it’s reached the true crime boom. HBO Max’s latest star-studded miniseries is The Staircase, which depicts the 2003 trial of novelist Michael Peterson (Colin Firth) for the 2001 murder of his wife Kathleen (Toni Collette).
Following the first teaser, the new trailer for The Staircase sets up the conflicted couple, who had been married for nearly a decade at the time that Kathleen was found dead with extensive injuries that authorities asserted were inconsistent with an accident.
The Petersons had three children between their previous marriages, plus two more kids that Michael adopted after their mother Elizabeth Ratliff died–also at the bottom of a staircase. Ratliff’s 1985 death became another point of suspicion during Peterson’s trial and was deemed a homicide after her body was exhumed and reexamined, though the state of North Carolina did not accuse him of her murder.
The legal proceedings were extensively documented by the French filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, who compiled his footage into an eight-part miniseries in 2004, also called The Staircase. This was followed by a feature-length update, 2013's The Staircase II: The Last Chance, which was eventually cut into two shorter episodes. In 2018, a three-episode followup arrived on Netflix. De Lestrade’s presence will make it into the HBO Max series, with Firth’s Peterson noting, “The French do have good taste.”
The Staircase also stars Michael Stuhlbarg (Call Me By Your Name), Juliette Binoche (High Life), Dane DeHaan (Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets), Parker Posey (Columbus), Rosemarie DeWitt (Mad Men), Sophie Turner (Game Of Thrones), and Odessa Young (Mothering Sunday).
The limited series was created by Antonio Campos (The Devil All The Time), who also directed six episodes. The other two episodes were directed by Leigh Jeniak (Netflix’s Fear Street). Campos also co-wrote the series with Maggie Cohn (American Crime Story).
HBO Max will launch The Staircase with a three-episode premiere on May 5, followed by weekly installments through June 9.