'The Staircase' on HBO Max Release Date, Cast, Trailer, Plot

HBO Max has another true-crime drama to add to your watch list. The Staircase, starring Colin Firth, Toni Colette, Sophie Turner, and Patrick Schwarzenegger, brings the case of Michael Peterson, a Vietnam veteran and crime novelist who was convicted of murder, to the small screen.

The story has been told before via many true-crime podcasts and a documentary series by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, but the story of Peterson and his alleged crimes has never been told like this before.

Newsweek has everything you need to know about The Staircase including the release date, cast, trailer, plot, and more.

When Is The Staircase Out on HBO Max?

The Staircase is coming to your screen very soon.

The first three episodes will drop on HBO Max on Thursday, May 5 at 3 a.m. ET.

There are eight episodes in total, with the remaining five installments airing weekly on the streaming platform.

To watch The Staircase, you must be an HBO Max customer. You can subscribe now for $9.99 per month for an ad-supported subscription or $14.99 for an ad-free subscription.

colin firth toni colette the staircase
Colin Firth and Toni Colette as Michael and Kathleen Peterson in HBO Max's The Staircase. HBO MAX

Who Stars in The Staircase on HBO Max?

Colin Firth leads the cast of The Staircase on HBO Max as Michael Peterson.

In the HBO Max series, Peterson, a crime novelist, is accused of bludgeoning his wife Kathleen Peterson to death after she is found at the bottom of their staircase in their home.

Firth is best known for his roles in Bridget Jones's Diary, Shakespeare in Love, Pride and Prejudice, and The King's Speech, winning the Best Actor Oscar for the latter.

Toni Colette stars opposite Firth as his late wife, Kathleen Peterson.

Colette is best known for her roles in Wanderlust, Unbelievable, Knives Out, and Muriel's Wedding.

Game of Thrones alum Sophie Turner plays the role of Margaret Ratliff and The Daughter's Odessa Young plays Martha Ratliff, Michael Peterson's adopted daughter.

Olivia DeJonge portrays Caitlin Atwater, Kathleen's daughter from a previous relationship, and Patrick Schwarzenegger and Dane DeHaan take on the roles of Todd and Clayton Peterson, the sons of Michael Peterson from his first marriage to Patricia Sue.

Other famous faces appearing in The Staircase include:

  • Rosemarie DeWitt as Candace Hunt Zamperini
  • Juliette Binoche as Sophie Brunet
  • Parker Posey as Freda Black
  • Michael Stuhlbarg as David Rudolf
  • Tim Guinee as Bill Peterson
  • Vincent Vermignon as Jean-Xavier
  • Hannah Pniewski as Becky
  • Kevin Sizemore as Mark Zamperini
  • Robert Crayton as Ron Guerette
  • Joel McKinnon Miller as Larry Pollard

Warning: Spoilers below

What is The Staircase on HBO Max About?

The Staircase on HBO Max brings to the small screen the gripping true story of Michael Peterson, a novelist who was convicted of murdering his second wife Kathleen Peterson in December 2001.

After eight years, Peterson was granted a new trial after a judge ruled a prosecution witness gave misleading testimony and in 2017, he submitted an Alford plea, which is a guilty plea where the defendant admits that the evidence against them would likely lead to a finding of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but the defendant does not admit to the crime and asserts their innocence. Peterson submitted the Alford plea to the reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter.

The show is written by The Devil All The Time's Antonio Campos and American Crime Story's Maggie Cohn. It is based on the 2004 true-crime docuseries of the same name created by Lestrade.

Lestrade began to follow Peterson's story soon after his arrest in 2001 and continued to film until 2017, following his Alford Plea. The first part of the documentary aired in 2004, with updates in 2015 and 2018, standing at 13 episodes long.

The Staircase on HBO Max not only follows the aftermath of Kathleen Peterson's death and Peterson's trial but also delves into the making of Lestrade's documentary and explores all of the family drama that never made it in the docuseries.

Is There A Trailer For The Staircase on HBO Max?

Yes, there is an eerie trailer for The Staircase on HBO Max that will have you hooked.

The trailer beings with Firth, who has ditched his British accent for the role, announcing "I think there are not many families like us" before the clip cuts to the entire family sitting at the dinner table.

Colette as Michael's wife Kathleen proposes a toast, cheerfully stating: "Every day is gonna be an adventure so always stop and think. This is one of the happiest days of my life."

Then, within the space of a second, everything changes. A 911 call is heard, where Michael screams his wife has been found unconscious at the bottom of the stairs.

Next, Michael Peterson is seen in court and fighting off accusations from those around him that he was responsible for his wife's death.

The trailer comes to an end with the family engaged in a huge fight and someone stating "the Peterson's are crazy," before somebody is seen sneaking up the stairs.

The Staircase premieres Thursday, May 5 on HBO Max.