The Staircase is here and already enthralling viewers with its first three episodes depicting the real-life case of Michael Peterson, a wealthy author from North Carolina who in 2001 was suspected of murdering his wife.
The dramatized series (find out what is fact vs fiction so far in the show right here) is streaming on HBO Max in the US and Sky TV and NOW TV in the UK, with new episodes being released every Thursday through June 9. The Staircase stars Colin Firth as Peterson, Toni Collette as Kathleen Peterson, as well as Sophie Turner, Michael Stuhlbarg, Rosemarie DeWitt, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Parker Posey and Juliette Binoche.
In the second episode of The Staircase, we find out that some documentary filmmakers are interested in chronicling Peterson’s case. This really did happen, with a docuseries also called The Staircase first released in 2004.
If you can’t get enough about the Peterson case, here is what you need to know about how and where to watch The Staircase documentary.
Where to watch The Staircase documentary
The Staircase 2004 documentary is currently available to stream on Netflix in both the US and the UK.
There are 13 almost hour-long episodes in the documentary, which provides in-depth looks at the case from shortly after the indictment to the trial to the appeals and developments all the way up to 2018.
It’s easy to sign up for Netflix if you are not currently a subscriber, as The Staircase documentary is only available to those with access to Netflix.
How was The Staircase documentary made?
Jean-Xavier de Lestrade and Denis Poncet won an Oscar for Best Documentary in 2002 for their movie Murder on a Sunday Morning, which documented a murder trial of a 15-year-old African American in Jacksonville who was wrongfully convicted. They soon found themselves drawn to another case, Michael Peterson’s.
According to a Vanity Fair article, de Lestrade and Poncet (who are played by Vincent Vermignon and Frank Feys in the new series) chronicled the case, with access to Michael Peterson, family members and much of the details of the trial. The filmmakers reportedly spent hundreds of hours with Peterson. In a Vulture article, de Lestrade adds that after a few months of filming, the prosecution cut off their access.
The first eight episodes detail the story from Kathleen’s death to Michael’s trial, while the remaining episodes pick up years later as new theories, hearings and more unfold in this story, with de Lestrade there to capture it all.
The Staircase documentary trailer
All episodes of The Staircase documentary made their way onto Netflix in 2018. Here is the trailer that the streaming service released to promote it.
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Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.