Fresh off her Fear Street trilogy on Netflix, director Leigh Janiak has lined up her next project. She’s transitioning from fictional killers to real life crime, as she’s signed on to helm two episodes of the upcoming HBO Max limited series, The Staircase.
The series is based on the true-crime documentary series of the same name and stars Colin Firth as novelist Michael Peterson, a man convicted of murdering his wife Kathleen – played by Toni Collette – after suspicious circumstances surrounding her death are discovered.
The series will run for eight episodes, and has already hired Antonio Campos (Christine, The Devil All The Time) to direct the other six. Janiak is no stranger to TV, previously directing multiple episodes of MTV’s Scream series and the Panic pilot for Amazon, not to mention the fact that the Fear Street trilogy was pretty much a six episode TV series itself.
She said of the project: “The Staircase has haunted me since I watched the brilliant documentary years ago. I couldn’t be more excited and honored to help Antonio and Maggie bring their vision to life as we show new sides to this complex, intense story.”
Campos and Maggie Cohn are writing the show and serving as showrunners. Janiak will have a hell of a cast to work with, as alongside Firth and Collette, the series will also star Rosemarie DeWitt, Juliette Binoche, Parker Posey, Dane DeHaan, Sophie Turner, and Michael Stuhlbarg.
It will be interesting to see how the series depicts Peterson, as the original documentary and its follow-ups have been criticized for depicting him too sympathetically despite the evidence against him. This could be the opportunity to tell more of Kathleen’s side of the story.
With true crime incredibly popular, and the original Staircase being a series that laid the groundwork for the current boom in the genre, this will no doubt be a show that gets a lot of eyeballs on it. With Janiak and Campos directing a stacked cast, it’s hard to imagine this being a disappointment.