HBO Max has landed on an admittedly inspired choice to play novelist Michael Peterson in its upcoming dramatization of long-running docuseries The Staircase, having tasked Colin Firth to play the sharp-tongued, avuncular, poofy-haired, disconcertingly hard-staring academic, which: Yes, well done.
Written and produced by Antonio Campos and Maggie Cohn, this dramatized version of Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s documentary has been in development since 2019, roughly a year after the last time de Lestrade expanded his in-depth exploration of the death of Kathleen Peterson, and the life of her husband Michael as suspicion began to color every aspect of his otherwise comfortable life. It was originally reported that Harrison Ford—no stranger to yelling “I didn’t kill my wife!”, in various shades of believability—might be lining up for the Peterson part, but Firth seems like he might be a perfect fit, too, capable of projecting distance and deliberate, focused warmth in equal and disconcerting measure.
This will be Firth’s first regular TV role, teaming up with Annapurna Television for a dramatized spin on a docuseries that helped set the gold standard for dispassionate, fly-on-the-wall true crime documentary TV. No word yet on who might play other key parts of the show’s narrative, including long-serving attorney David Rudolf, Kathleen Peterson herself, or, of course, the owl that bizarrely features in many theories about how she might have died back in 2001. (No, seriously, there’s a whole theory about an owl attack that’s always seemed strangely plausible.)
No word yet on when The Staircase will arrive on HBO Max.