‘The Staircase’: What the Real-Life Sophie Brunet Thinks of Colin Firth as Michael Peterson, Her One-Time Boyfriend of 13 Years

True crime is en vogue right now. Not only are streaming giants like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max coming out with true crime documentaries, but there has also been a recent surge of true crime dramas. 

The dramatization of infamous cases allows audiences to see things from a different perspective. Writers are able to layer emotions and motives on characters the public may already think they know well. In the case of the death of Kathleen Peterson, wife of Michael Peterson, there is both a true-crime documentary and a drama series

The Staircase documentary is available to stream on Netflix. Now, HBO Max is dramatizing the case with a series also titled The Staircase. So, what do the real-life people in this case think about the new dramatization?

‘The Staircase’ was a famous true crime case before the Netflix documentary 

Calling the documentary The Staircase was an interesting choice by the producers. In reality, this case had little to do with a staircase. When Kathleen Peterson, wife of author Michael Peterson, was found dead, she happened to be at the bottom of a staircase. However, it was quickly apparent that she didn’t suffer a tragic fall. 

When police arrived at the bloody scene, they suspected foul play. They thought Michael beat Kathleen to death and left her at the bottom of the stairs as if she had fallen. Michael certainly had motives. He was cheating on Kathleen, and they had more than a few marital problems. 

Michael and his lawyers had other theories, including that an owl attack could have caused Kathleen’s death. However, the jury didn’t buy any of Michael’s different scenarios, and he was convicted of her murder. However, his life sentence was reduced due to problems with the trial, and he is currently out of prison. 

What does Sophie Brunet think of Colin Firth’s portrayal of Michael Peterson?

The documentary The Staircase was made before and during Michael’s trial in 2003. French documentarian Jean-Xavier Lestrade worked on the project with Sophie Brunet, a French editor.

Brunet didn’t keep an arms-length distance between herself and the documentary’s subject. She and Peterson fell in love, even though he was in prison. The two sustained their relationship for more than a decade. However, when Peterson was released, they realized the long-distance relationship wouldn’t work. 

Now, Brunet has to watch as Colin Firth plays her ex on the new HBO series. According to Brunet, she feels betrayed by the new show. According to an interview with Vanity Fair, Lestrade feels the same. In the new series, it appears that the documentary team hid evidence that could prove Michael’s guilt. However, according to the crew, that never happened. 

Sophie Brunet wasn’t happy to be involved in the HBO drama 

Juliette Binoche, who plays Sophie Brunet on 'The Staircase' seen at the Walter Reade Theater
Juliette Binoche, who plays Sophie Brunet on ‘The Staircase’ | Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Sophie Brunet and Michael Peterson only got together after she finished editing the documentary in real life. However, the series makes it seem like they were dating while she was still working on the documentary. Lestrade and Brunet feel that this directly attacks their credibility as documentarians. 

In the series, Brunet is played by Juliette Binoche, whom she has met in person. According to Vanity Fair, the two hit it off, despite Brunet’s feelings about the series. 

Lestrade was originally excited about the series and even helped create it. However, the team is now unhappy with how HBO series creators have made them seem on screen. 

RELATED: ‘The Staircase’: Who Was Michael Peterson’s First Wife, Patricia Peterson?