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Interview: Toni Collette & Colin Firth Discuss Working on ‘The Staircase’ Together

When casting Toni Collette and Colin Firth as your leads you are not fooling around. That is exactly what has happened for HBO Max’s limited series, The Staircase. The series covers a very serious matter, the mysterious death of Kathleen Peterson (played by Collette) and demands high caliber performances. They deliver. As always seems to be the case, the prime suspect is of course the husband, Michael Peterson, played to perfection by Firth.

The limited series is based on the real life events leading up to Kathleen’s death and the search for the truth after. Unlike it first may appear, this is not an open and shut case. What transpires is sure to divide audiences because Michael is a complex character. With each turn there is a revelation or a new question. Kathleen’s death is pieced together from multiple perspectives, taking behind the closed doors of the Peterson household, into meetings with lawyers and other off-limit conversations. This includes those of the filmmakers who shot the original documentary about the case of the same name.

The cast is impressive, including such names as Michael Stuhlbarg, Parker Posey, Sophie Turner, Odessa Young, Juliette Binoche, Patrick Schwarzenegger, and Dane DeHaan to name a few. Fans of true crime, mystery, family drama, and legal/courtroom proceeding will find plenty to sink their teeth into while wresting with just where the truth lies.

I sat down to speak with Collette and Peterson about their work on the series. In the conversation, Collette explained how question of Michael Peterson’s guilt holds the public’s interest, “I think that’s the beautiful thing about this story. I think that’s why people will want to keep watching it. And it’s why we were still every day to the bitter end, when we’re making this scratching our heads and flip flopping he did it, he didn’t do it. It was the like, you can’t stop yourself from wandering, you can’t stop wanting to know.’

She continued, “It’s just unknowable, there will not be any answers unless Michael has some information, if he did it. And if he ever came forward, which at this point, I doubt he would, then that’s really the only solid information anyone would ever have.”

The series is Collette and Firth’s first time working together, something that may surprise viewers when watching their on-screen chemistry. Firth talked about that work relationship, “One of the things that was a great advantage when we met is, it did feel like we knew each other pretty well, right from the beginning. There’s nothing like trust, I mean, having an ease with the person you’re working with, you know, it’s everything.”

Check out my full interview with Toni Collette and Colin Firth below. And keep an eye on Awards Radar as more interview will follow. The Staircase is now streaming on HBO Max with new episodes released each Thursday.


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Written by Steven Prusakowski

Steven Prusakowski has been a cinephile as far back as he can remember, literally. At the age of ten, while other kids his age were sleeping, he was up into the late hours of the night watching the Oscars. Since then, his passion for film, television, and awards has only grown. For over a decade he has reviewed and written about entertainment through publications including Awards Circuit and Screen Radar. He has conducted interviews with some of the best in the business - learning more about them, their projects and their crafts. He is a graduate of the RIT film program. You can find him on Twitter and Letterboxd as @FilmSnork – we don’t know why the name, but he seems to be sticking to it.

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