A stunning home. A happy family. A dark secret. The newly released official trailer for Sky’s The Staircase hones in on the idea of secrets bubbling away beneath the façade of a perfect family – and we are so here for it.
When Kathleen Peterson (Toni Collette) is found dead at the bottom of her staircase, questions start to whir – could it be an accident? But somehow, 35 cuts and bruises don’t point to an accidental death. Soon, suspicions begin to mount towards her husband, Michael (played by Colin Firth).
In the trailer, it’s clear to see that family is everything in this drama but the idyllic home that Kathleen and Michael tried to portray may have been hiding darker secrets. “It was 25 years ago and nothing happened. You know there wasn’t even any blood?” Michael tells an army of French documentary makers.
“Well, there was some blood Michael,” his ex-wife says. His exasperation is palpable and with such a large family, some of his children start to think that maybe their father had something to do with Kathleen’s death after all. If the trailer’s anything to go by, this Sky drama will keep us guessing right up until the very last moment.
And we finally know when it’s set to land on our screens. Set your timers because The Staircase is dropping very, very soon on 5 May.
Watch the new trailer for yourself here:
The tense teaser trailer for Sky’s The Staircase also paints an eerie picture of domestic bliss gone wrong.
In the nearly two minute clip, we see the dramatic true story of the Peterson family unfold after Michael Peterson is accused of orchestrating the tragic death of his wife Kathleen.
“We’re not perfect, god knows, but we’ve survived because we stick together and we love each other,” Michael, portrayed by Firth, speaks in the voiceover.
Cue a loving montage of the idyllic family and tender moments between Michael and his wife, played by Collette. But it’s not before long that things take a turn and we witness a 911 call and Kathleen’s body at the bottom of the stairs.
As Michael is suspected of her murder, a media frenzy begins and casts shadows on the patriarch and threatening to uncover secrets hidden deep beneath the perfect family facade.
One thing is for sure: that Michael will go to any length to protect “La Familia” – and perhaps himself.
The excitement for Sky’s gritty new show has been steadily building ever since our favourite Game Of Thrones star Sophie Turner joined the cast way back in June 2021.
What’s more, it’s finally been confirmed that the upcoming series will premiere in the UK this spring on Sky and Now TV. The exact release date is sadly still being kept under wraps, but something tells us that it could be sooner than we think.
What is the plot of The Staircase?
In The Staircase, Colin Firth takes the lead as novelist Michael Peterson, the man who was thrown under a cloud of suspicion following the death of his wife, Kathleen. Toni Collette, known for her roles in Knives Out and Hereditary, plays the role of Peterson’s wife, with Turner as his adopted daughter, Margaret Ratliff.
And Firth certainly finds himself a world away from his Mr Darcy days in this role. In one eerie image, Firth’s Peterson solemnly cradles Collette from behind during a Christmas scene.
It could, to the untrained eye, look like a tender moment between husband and wife. But knowing what we do know of Kathleen’s fate, it’s just the beginning of a tragic story, and one we’re sure will chill us to the bone as we watch it unfold on screen.
Written and produced by Antonio Campos and Maggie Cohn, HBO/Sky’s version of Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s documentary has been in development since 2019.
What’s the true story behind The Staircase?
On 9 December 2001, Peterson rang police to report that he had found his wife, Kathleen, lying unconscious at the bottom of “15, 20, I don’t know” stairs.
The novelist maintained that his wife must have stumbled down the staircase after consuming a potent mixture of alcohol and Valium – a theory which was disputed by the post-mortem toxicology results. And, when police investigators concluded that Kathleen’s injuries were not consistent with an accidental fall, they arrested Peterson on suspicion of murder.
The trial that followed caught the attention of the press, as the prosecution repeatedly attacked Peterson’s character, using his bisexuality as a motive for the alleged homicidal assault. And they also brought the death of Elizabeth Ratliff, a friend of the Petersons, to the attention of the jury, noting that she had also been found at the bottom of a flight of blood-spattered stairs. And that Peterson, who had stayed late at Ratliff’s after a family dinner, was the last known person to have seen her alive.
Peterson was eventually found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. However, the story didn’t end there, as the novelist was released in 2011 and granted a new trial after it was discovered that a witness for the prosecution lied on the stand.
In 2017, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter (although he maintains his innocence) to stay out of jail.
Who stars in The Staircase?
The Staircase boasts a seriously impressive cast. But while Firth, Collette and Turner, alongside Parker Posey, Juliette Binoche and Rosemarie DeWitt may appear as the picture-perfect family in newly released images from the series, which shows them around a table during family dinner. But there is certainly something dark bubbling underneath the surface, and from what we already know, domestic bliss is about to turn into something dangerous.
What are people saying about The Staircase?
“It is a thrill to collaborate with Antonio Campos, Maggie Cohn and Annapurna Television for the exploration of this true-life story that’s rife with dramatic revelations,” says Sarah Aubrey, head of original content for HBO Max.
“With the enormously talented Colin Firth at the centre of this adaptation, the story of The Staircase will continue to captivate audiences with every bizarre twist and turn.”
Campos adds: “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 dramatise such a complex true-life story.”
How many episodes of The Staircase will there be?
HBO Max/Sky has ordered eight episodes of the limited series, so there will be plenty of gritty drama to sink into.
When and where can I watch The Staircase?
The Staircase is set to premiere on Sky and streaming service NOW on 5 May.
Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.
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