Harrison Ford is best known for his many heroic roles, but his next venture will be a little different. According to a Variety report, Ford is set to star in and executive produce a series adaptation of The Staircase for Annapurna Television. The 2004 docuseries, currently available on Netflix, follows the infamous murder trial of Michael Peterson. Interestingly, the documentary felt rather one-sided and focuses on his extended family and defense attorneys throughout the process.
The former novelist was convicted of murdering his second wife Kathleen Peterson in December 2001. During a 911 call, Petersen claimed his wife fell down a flight of stairs in their mansion while inebriated. However, authorities were suspicious and believed he beat her with a blow poke that was missing from the home. They believe he staged the scene to look like an accident.
The case made national headlines due to the many suspicious twists and outlandish claims, most famously a later theory claims Kathleen’s death was the result of an owl attack. Another claim from the trial indicated Peterson murdered Kathleen after she learned about his affairs with a number of men. Additionally, the case recalled an eerily similar death of someone close of Peterson more than a decade earlier. In 1986, his children’s godmother was found dead at the bottom of the stairs with a head injury.
The Staircase documented events following Peterson’s arrest up to his Alford plea in 2017. This type of plea basically allowed him to maintain his innocence while acknowledging that there is enough evidence there to convict him of a crime. Interesting. The plea also reduced his charge to manslaughter and he received a sentence of time served. However, his Alford plea has no effect on the result of the civil suit filed by his step-daughter Caitlin. The two settled the suit in 2008, with Peterson required to pay her $25 million. It would be interesting to see what her thoughts are on Harrison Ford portraying her stepfather.
There’s no confirmation of Michael Peterson being involved with this project but if he is then it might be a way to help him pay on such a massive debt. Peterson is still somehow in the news with after releasing a free book, Behind the Staircase, in early 2019 about his life since Kathleen’s death. He says he lives a quiet life in North Carolina and wants to have peace in his life.
It’s not clear how this new adaptation will take on the story. Perhaps it will start with present-day and have Harrison Ford’s Peterson reflecting back on his life. Or maybe the story will be told through the eyes of someone close to the Peterson case while still centering on what happens to Michael Peterson. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to basically do the same thing that the docuseries did so there must be some way to switch things up. But, there may be new information revealed and unknown stories to tell that could make it an intriguing project.
Hopefully, more news about this project including additional casting will come to the surface really soon.
Image Credit: Lucasfilm