Michael Peterson likely won’t watch “The Staircase” but he has plenty to say about HBO Max’s dramatization of his life.
Peterson was convicted of murdering Kathleen Peterson, his wife, in 2003. He was released after eight years in prison due to a deliberately false witness testimony. Peterson pled guilty to manslaughter in a new trial and was released having served his time.
HBO Max has converted a French docu-series titled “The Staircase” into a fictional series of the same name, starring Colin Firth and Toni Collette as Michael and Kathleen, respectively. Both HBO Max’s series and the docu-series take their name from Kathleen’s death — her body was found at the bottom of their home’s staircase.
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“I was there when she died, and I do not want to see two other depictions of her death that I’ve been told are violent and graphic. I just don’t want to see that,” Michael told Variety of the new series. “Apparently, there’s this one scene, when Kathleen dies — oh, I kill her supposedly — because she had seen the pornography on my laptop.”Wrong, wrong, wrong! We never fought. There was nothing to fight about. I would be sickened to see the fictional Kathleen fighting and screaming.”
Showrunner Antonio Campos’ decision to depict the various theories surrounding Kathleen’s death also upsets Michael.
“That completely fabricated episode with me killing Kathleen is grossly homophobic when she finds pornography on my computer late at night, though the prosecution expert testified that the computer was not accessed after 4 p.m.” he said. “Creating a false and fictional sexual reason for me to kill her is disgustingly homophobic as well as wrong, as proven in court.
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“How could [Campos] create a scene that was completely disproved in trial testimony? That shows his total disregard for truth, and his denigration of my bisexuality. He invented a reason for killing Kathleen based on my bisexuality. That also maligns Kathleen, who was a kind and understanding person.”
And do not get him started on Oscar-winning Best Actor Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”).
“It could be worse, I suppose. He’s not my favourite 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 humour,” he said. “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.”