The Staircase Release Date: Kathleen Peterson Died From What Cause? Is It Based on True Events?

Add another true-crime drama to your Netflix queue with HBO Max. ladder The tale of Michael Peterson, a Vietnam soldier and mystery author who was convicted of murder, is brought to the small screen by Colin Firth.

With Toni Collette, Sophie Turner, and Patrick Schwarzenegger. The narrative of Peterson and his alleged atrocities has previously been told through various true-crime podcasts and a documentary series by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, but it has never been told in this way.

The Staircase

Newsweek You already know everything there is to know. Ladder Release date, cast, trailer, plot, and more are all included.


Who Is in the Cast of the Staircase?

Here is the cast of The Staircase, along with their roles:

  • Michael Peterson is played by Colin Firth.
  • Kathleen Peterson is played by Toni Collette.
  • David Rudlof is played by Michael Stuhlbarg.
  • Clayton Peterson is played by Dane DeHaan.
  • Caitlin Atwater is played by Olivia DeJonge.
  • Candance Zamperini is played by Rosemarie DeWitt.
  • Bill Peterson is played by Tim Guinee.
  • Todd Peterson is played by Patrick Schwarzenegger.
  • Margaret Ratliff is played by Sophie Turner.
  • Jean-Xavier de Lestrade is played by Vincent Vermignon.
  • Martha Ratliff is played by Odessa Young.
  • Freda Black is played by Parker Posey.
  • Sophie Brunet is played by Juliette Binoche.

The Staircase

What is the Plot of The Staircase?

“Based on a true story, The Staircase chronicles the life of Michael Peterson, his enormous North Carolina family, and the strange murder of his wife, Kathleen Peterson,” Colin Firth says in front of a wall with good and bed sheets.

If you want to learn more about the trial from The Staircase, be aware that we’re about to dive into some details.

Kathleen Peterson was discovered dead in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of the family’s Durham, North Carolina, mansion in December 2001.

Following that, Michael Peterson was named as the prime suspect in her death. In 2003, Peterson was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison after a three-month trial. However, the narrative did not finish there.

The case remained in the public eye because of a documentary filmed by a French film crew and Peterson’s continued innocence despite many appeals, and hypotheses regarding Kathleen Peterson’s death began to emerge.

When it was discovered that a major witness for the prosecution had lied under oath, a fresh trial was ordered. After serving 89 months in prison.

Michael Peterson was released in 2017 after agreeing to a plea deal that allowed him to maintain his innocence but acknowledging that the prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him, with the official verdict labelling him guilty (an Alford plea).

That sounds like there will be a lot of twists and turns for viewers as they try to figure out what happened to Kathleen Peterson. If you want more detail, we have an article regarding where the actual Michael Peterson is now, which also answers other important faction vs fiction questions.

When Will the Staircase Be Released?

The Staircase premieres on Sky Atlantic on Thursday, May 5th at 9pm. From that point forward, the first three episodes will be accessible to stream on NOW, with the following five being released weekly.

The Staircase

That means the entire series will be available to binge on Thursday, June 9th.

Kathleen Peterson Died From What Cause?

Kathleen was bludgeoned to death with a blunt weapon and sustained many lacerations to her scalp, according to the medical examiner.

The blood on her head had dried, showing that she had been in that situation for some time, contradicting Michael’s assertion that he had discovered her at the foot of the stairs less than half an hour after the purported occurrence.

Is It Inspired by a Real Event?

It certainly is. In December 2001, Petersen was charged with murdering his wife; while he claimed that she had fallen down the stairs, officials claimed that her injuries were consistent with blunt force trauma produced by bludgeoning.

The Staircase is a dramatization of the same-named acclaimed French documentary (though it is frequently referred to as Death on a Staircase).


The first installment of the documentary was produced in 2004, and it focused on the crime and the early reaction, while a follow-up was released in 2018, with fourteen years of hindsight on the murder and its ramifications. The documentary version of The Staircase is available on Netflix.

Trailer for The Staircase

In April 2022, HBO Max released a full-length teaser for The Staircase, providing audiences a three-minute glimpse at the sombre real crime thriller. Take a look at the video below.

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