Documentaries may chronicle real life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an honest portrayal.
Rosemarie DeWitt and Olivia DeJonge learned this firsthand while preparing to star in HBO Max’s adaptation of the 2004 true crime documentary The Staircase. The series followed North Carolina novelist Michael Peterson as he defended himself from accusations of murdering his wife, Kathleen Peterson, who was found dead at the bottom of their staircase in 2001.
In the HBO Max dramatization, Toni Collette plays Kathleen, while DeWitt and DeJonge plays her sister Candace Zamperini and daughter Caitlin Atwater respectively. Both women turned against Michael (Colin Firth) after the murder.
In their preparations, the actresses were given access to never before seen footage, which offered them insight into the people they are playing.
“The documentarians had a point of view on Candace, and they had a point of view on Michael Peterson,” DeWitt told E! News. “They chose what to leave in and what to leave out and, ultimately, for me playing [Candace], I thought she was kind of villainized in the documentary.”