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The Staircase: Michael Peterson rages against Colin Firth HBO series over ‘egregious fabrications’

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Michael Peterson, the man at the heart of the real-life story in The Staircase, has raged about the HBO series in a new interview.

Peterson is an American novelist who was convicted of killing his wife Kathleen and sentenced to life in prison in 2003, despite maintaining she had died after falling down the stairs. In 2017, Peterson was released after his charge was reduced to manslaughter and he was sentenced to time already served.

An HBO series starring Colin Firth as Peterson and Toni Collette as Kathleen, which is a follow-up to Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s acclaimed documentary of the same name, is currently filming inside Michael’s home.

In a recent interview with Variety, Peterson said that de Lestrade had “pimped” him and his family out by giving The Staircase showrunner Antonio Campos access to his archives.

“He released his archive to Campos who then created a fictional account of events,” Peterson said. “Most of which trashed me, which I really don’t care about, and my children, which I really do care about.

“There are egregious fabrications and distortions of the truth in the HBO series, well beyond what may be considered ‘artistic’ license.”

Michael Peterson (left) and Colin Firth, who plays Peterson in HBO’s ‘The Staircase’ (S Meddle/ITV/Shutterstock/HBO)
Michael Peterson (left) and Colin Firth, who plays Peterson in HBO’s ‘The Staircase’ (S Meddle/ITV/Shutterstock/HBO)

“Since I knew that Antonio had in mind to tell the story of Michael and the documentary, I thought that it would be better to cooperate, and be involved in the process then to stay totally outside as a stranger,” de Lestrade told Variety. “In a way I thought I was protecting Michael and his family by being involved, but I was wrong.”

De Lestrade and his documentary’s editor, Sophie Brunet, are also involved in a public dispute with Campos and HBO over their depiction in the show.

“Jean should have known that when you sell your a**/property, you assume the risk of getting f***ed/betrayed,” Peterson said. “So he got betrayed/f***ed. Why should he be surprised? He was compensated – paid off.

“But we didn’t sell our story to Campos – were never even consulted or informed that Jean had done this. We are the ones who were betrayed, falsely depicted as fighting among ourselves (which NEVER happened), and with made-up storylines that denigrate all of us in the eyes of millions.”

The Independent has contacted representatives for Campos for comment. HBO Max denied a request for comment.

The Staircase is available to stream on Now.

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