The Staircase HBO Max Miniseries: The Cast And Everything Else We Know About The True Crime Drama

Michael Peterson in The Staircase

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Since its 2020 launch, HBO Max has become one of the premier streaming services for true crime fans. With all sorts of engaging crime shows, movies, and documentaries, it looks like the super-streamer couldn’t get better. Or could it? Well, The Staircase HBO Max miniseries, a dramatic retelling of the mysterious 2001 death of an acclaimed American novelist’s wife and the intrigue surrounding the sprawling family will soon take to the streamer, bringing fans the latest addition to impressive true crime collection.

Is this the first you are hearing about The Staircase or the head-scratcher of a criminal case on which it is based? Well, fear not, budding true crime fan, for we have put together a comprehensive list of everything we know about the upcoming drama series from its cast, story, and the two showrunners who are bringing quite a track record to the table with what could very well be the next great HBO Max series…

Colin Firth in Love Actually, Toni Collette in Knives Out, Sophie Turner in Game of Thrones

Colin Firth, Sophie Turner, And Toni Collette Lead The Staircase Cast

Every great drama miniseries needs an outstanding cast, right? Well, there are great casts and there is The Staircase cast. Leading the series will be Colin Firth as novelist-turned-convicted killer Michael Peterson who was convicted in the 2001 death of his second wife, Kathleen, played here by Toni Collette. The talent doesn’t stop there as Game of Thrones alum Sophie Turner will be taking on the role of Margaret Ratliff, one Peterson’s adopted daughters, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Other members of The Staircase cast include Parker Posey as Freda Black, the assistant district attorney and prosecutor in the Peterson case, Rosemarie DeWitt as Candace Zamperini, Kathleen Peterson’s sister, and Juliette Binoche in an undisclosed role, per Deadline.

Michael Peterson in The Staircase

The Staircase Will Explore The Life Of Novelist Michael Peterson And His Role In The 2001 Death Of His Wife

When HBO Max first announced The Staircase in March 2021, the streamer described the upcoming limited series as an exploration of the life of American novelist Michael Peterson, his large and largely supportive North Carolina family, and the mysterious death of his wife, Kathleen in December 2001. How much of the story will be told throughout the series has yet to be revealed (HBO Max hasn’t disclosed whether or not the infamous “Owl Theory” will be touched on), but those familiar with the case and the twists and turns it took even after Peterson’s conviction know just how crazy this story gets.

Michael Peterson in The Staircase

The Staircase Is Based On A 2003 True Crime Docuseries Of The Same Name

The HBO Max true crime limited series will largely be an adaptation of Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s 2003 docuseries The Staircase, which has been expanded multiple times over the years, with two episodes being added in 2013 and three more in 2018 when the entire series became available on Netflix. This engaging and the detailed documentary series includes everything from Michael Peterson’s initial indictment to his conviction and then picks back up with later developments in the case.

In addition to the Peabody Award-winning documentary series, HBO Max has announced that The Staircase will also include information found in various books and reports that have been written about the case over the years.

Watch The Staircase (docuseries) on Netflix. (opens in new tab)

The Peterson family in The Staircase

The Mysterious Death Of Kathleen Peterson And Its Fallout Will Be Explored Over The Course Of Eight Episodes

The strange and mysterious story of Kathleen Peterson’s death and her husband’s trial will get plenty of time to play out as HBO Max has announced the series will consist of eight episodes. The runtime for each episode has yet to be revealed, but if we use similar shows of this nature as a reference point, we can expect to see eight, hour-long episodes when the show makes its eventual debut.

Darren Criss in American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

The Staircase Is Being Written By Co-Showrunners Antonio Campos And Maggie Cohn

The creative team behind The Staircase should be enough to get HBO Max subscribers' interest piqued for the new true crime limited series. When the series was first announced, the streaming service revealed Antonio Campos (Christine, The Devil All the Time, The Sinner) and Maggie Cohn (American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace) will not only be writing all eight episodes, they will also be serving as co-showrunners. It was also announced that Campos would be directing six of those episodes, but the person (or persons) responsible for the remaining two episodes have not yet been revealed.

The Staircase is a co-production between HBO Max and Annapurna Television, whose previous TV credits include David Simon and Ed Burns’ 2020 HBO limited series The Plot Against America and Hulu’s horror anthology series Monsterland, which premiered the same year.

Michael Peterson in The Staircase

Antonio Campos Has Been Working On The Staircase Since 2008

When The Staircase is released on HBO Max at some point in the near future, it will the culmination of more than a decade of work by co-showrunner Antonio Campos, who, in a statement, revealed he has been working on the project for quite some time, stating:

This has been a project I have been working on in one way or another since 2008. It’s been a long and winding road, but well worth the wait to be able to find partners like HBO Max, Annapurna, co-showrunner Maggie Cohn and the incredible Colin Firth to dramatize such a complex true-life story.

And now that The Staircase has rounded out much of its core cast of characters, it looks like Antonio Campos’ project is one step closer to becoming a reality.

Hopefully more information starts to come down the pike as The Staircase shifts from a state of pre-production and the cameras start rolling on what could very well be HBO Max’s next must-watch drama series. While we wait for information on a release date, trailer, and other things to know about the one of the most anticipated upcoming true crime shows, check out CinemaBlend’s 2021 Summer TV schedule for all the latest on your favorite new and returning series.

Philip Sledge
Content Producer

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.