Kathleen Peterson‘s ill-fated fall down a set of stairs in 2001 was thoroughly investigated and is now considered a closed case, but Colin Firth said that playing her husband, Michael Peterson, in the HBO adaptation of The Staircase was one of the most perplexing roles of his life.
The actor told Vanity Fair it was “very, very hard” to know how to play the widower, saying, “I didn’t always know how to orientate myself.”
The questions surrounding this case forced Firth to find his own version of Michael, who is just as mysterious as the circumstances surrounding Kathleen’s death. “I very much wanted to err toward finding my own interpretation,” the actor explained. “That’s partly because I don’t really feel I have answers.”
While Michael was convicted of first-degree murder in relation to Kathleen’s death in 2004, he was later granted a re-trial. But after years of preparation, the author decided to enter an Alford plea in 2017, meaning he plead his innocence but acknowledged that there’s enough evidence to be convicted. He was sentenced to 86 months in prison, with credit for the more than eight years he had already served.