HBO Max’s “The Staircase,” the well-reviewed murder case against Michael Peterson, has proved to be a step too far from the truth for the filmmakers behind the original documentary of the same name.
The eight-part crime drama, directed by Antonio Campos and starring Colin Firth and Toni Collette, is based on the Peabody Award-winning documentary “The Staircase” created by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade.
For more than a decade, the French director and his team tracked down Peterson, who was accused of murdering his wife Kathleen after she was found dead under the back staircase of her North Carolina home in 2001 and later He was convicted.
The making of the documentary is woven into the plot of the HBO Max series, with the actor portraying de Lestrade and his crew, who are now destroying the production for misrepresenting their filmmaking process.
“I have to protect my work,” de Lestrade told Vanity Fair in a recent interview. “A series like this on HBO will get a lot of attention. And if people think that what they are seeing is true, then it is actually harmful to us. I’m really sorry, because I don’t want to damage the career of a talented director like Antonio. Because he is a very talented director. But in this case he did something wrong.
The filmmaker said he felt “betrayed” by how his team was portrayed in the upcoming fifth episode of the series, which he says manipulated footage in the editing room to portray Peterson in a more sympathetic light. Did.
“we gave [Campos] All the access he wanted, and I really trusted the guy,” de Lestrade said, noting that he shared archival footage, notes and tips with Campos during production. “So that’s why I’m so uncomfortable today. , because I feel that I have been kind of betrayed.”
“I understand if you pretend,” he said. “But when you attack the credibility of my work, that’s not really acceptable to me.”
De Lestrade denied in no uncertain terms that he edited the documentary in favor of Peterson, adding that he still did not know whether the novelist had “anything to do” with Kathleen’s death. (Peterson was released from prison eight years after being convicted and was given a fresh trial when it was discovered that a key witness in the prosecution’s case had given misleading testimony. He eventually filed an Alford plea. Submitted and remained a free man.)
The HBO Max series has also falsely proposed that a romantic relationship between Peterson and documentary editor Sophie Brunet (played by Juliette Binoche) occurred during filming, potentially compromising the project’s reputation.
The two did indeed have a relationship, but Brunet insisted it didn’t begin until she dropped the documentary or factored in how she edited the series.
“My relationship with Michael never affected my editing,” Brunet told Vanity Fair, explaining that they split in 2018 before finishing editing an additional three episodes that released on Netflix. “I never cut anything that would be harmful to him. I have such a great idea of my work that it can be even remotely tempted to do anything like that.”
Campos has yet to respond to the allegations, but de Lestrade and his crew are calling on the director to clear up inaccuracies before the controversial episode arrives on Thursday.
Filmmaker and producer Matthew Belghity has asked Campos to either produce an “objectionable allegation” or include a disclaimer that clarifies the series is “inspired” by real-life events at the beginning of each episode.