One of the most puzzling and disturbing crimes of the last 20 years is getting the television treatment, according to Variety. Harrison Ford is set to produce and star in an adaptation of the true crime documentary series The Staircase, where he will play Michael Peterson, an author convicted in 2003 of murdering his wife Kathleen Peterson after her body was found at the bottom of a staircase.
Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s 2004 documentary series follows Peterson’s trial, which ended with Peterson being convicted of the crime despite proclaiming his innocence.
Eight years into Peterson’s prison sentence, however, he was granted a new trial, which the filmmaker documented in 2012’s follow-up The Staircase II: Last Chance. In 2017, Peterson pled guilty to manslaughter under an Alford plea deal, and was released from prison with credit for time served. In 2018, three additional parts of the documentary series were released on Netflix, to follow Peterson’s final court battle and release from prison.
Peterson’s case was divisive, with some people believing that he was unfairly maligned by the public due to his extramarital affairs with men. (Peterson claimed that Kathleen was aware of these relations.) Others were skeptical of Peterson, and noted that his close friend Elizabeth Ratliff — whom Peterson would go on to adopt the children of — was found dead after apparently falling down a flight of stairs.
Annapurna Television will produce the fictionalized version of The Staircase. The company has picked up several ripped-from-the-headlines projects in recent years, including one on the crimes of the NXIVM organization and another about the college admissions scandal. Antonio Campos, who was recently an executive producer on The Sinner and will write and direct upcoming film The Devil All the Time, will write and EP the series.
The series is currently being shopped to networks and streamers, per Variety, so where one can watch the show is thus far unclear.
Whether this version of The Staircase will provide true crime enthusiasts any real answers is unlikely, but for those who want to dive into the twisty case from a fictionalized perspective, this sounds like just the way to do it.
The Staircase will provide true crime enthusiasts any real answers is unlikely, but for those who want to dive into the twisty case from a fictionalized perspective, this sounds like just the way to do it.