The documentary filmmaker who is portrayed in HBO Max’s The Staircase is feeling uneasy about the dramatization of his filmmaking process.
Antionio Campos’ The Staircase is inspired by the real-life murder of Kathleen Peterson (played by Toni Collette) and the investigation into her husband Michael Peterson (played by Colin Firth) that followed. Part of that investigation also included a documentary called The Staircase by director Jean-Xavier de Lestrade. In the HBO series, the filming of the documentary is also portrayed, though de Lestrade isn’t too happy with the mini-series.
“We gave [Campos] all the access he wanted, and I really trusted the man,” de Lestrade told Vanity Fair, “So that’s why today I’m very uncomfortable, because I feel that I’ve been betrayed in a way.” de Lestrade feels that his portrayal was inaccurate. “Because I trust Antonio I didn’t ask him to read the script. I was respecting his liberty as an author, as a creator, as a filmmaker. And I never asked to watch the episodes before they were shown because I was quite confident.”
In HBO’s The Staircase, there is a scene where it suggests that de Lestrade and his co-workers are editing the documentary to appear in favor of Peterson in order the help with his appeal. “I understand if you dramatize. But when you attack the credibility of my work, that’s really not acceptable to me,” de Lestrade added.
de Lestrade also has issues with the portrayal of Sophie Brunet, an editor who was in a relationship with Peterson at the time. Brunet told Vanity Fair, “My relationship with Michael never affected my editing. I never, ever cut anything out that would be damaging for him.” Brunet also denied that she worked on the editing of the first eight episodes of the original docuseries.
“It’s alleged that we cut the documentary series in a way to help Peterson’s appeal, which is not true.” de Lestrade added, insisting that he was unbiased and still unsure of what happened that night. “I can’t tell you if he had something to do with the death of Kathleen, because I don’t know.”
The Staircase is currently airing on HBO Max.