Jean-Xavier de Lestrade is pissed with Antonio Campos for the misleading portrayal of him in the new HBO adaptation.
We all know the confusing story of Michael Peterson by now (if not, get watching on Netflix right now), and we know it even better with this fresh take starring Colin Firth as the convicted criminal. However, the original director of 'The Staircase' 13-part docuseries, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, has voiced his dismay with the drama series' most recent episode.
*Mild spoilers for the next episode in the series, episode five, are below.*
De Lestrade and his team (including editor Sophie Brunet) were allowed around the clock access to the Peterson household in order to shoot the original documentary in the early 2000s. Following the horrific and mysterious death of Kathleen Peterson at the foot of a staircase in 2001, de Lestrade began documenting the various meetings, family gatherings and other off-the-cuff happenings held in the build-up towards, and during, the court case.
The eight-episode HBO adaptation has been growing in popularity since its launch earlier this month - and has even boosted interest in the original documentary by director de Lestrade, also called 'The Staircase'. However, episode five of the miniseries with Colin Firth and Toni Collette (four episodes are currently available on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW in Ireland and the UK), has not gone down well with the docuseries filmmaker.
Episode five shows de Lestrade and his team seemingly editing footage in order to sway the outcome of an appeal against Peterson’s life sentence. The director says he feels "betrayed" by Antonio Campos, the director of the drama, whom he met 12 years previously, citing this entire segment as "wrong" and untrue.
Sounding "shell-shocked", the 58-year-old told Vanity Fair: "We gave [Campos] all the access he wanted, and I really trusted the man. So that’s why today I’m very uncomfortable, because I feel that I’ve been betrayed in a way.
"Because I trust Antonio, I didn’t ask him to read the script. I was respecting his liberty as an author, as a creator, as a filmmaker. And I never asked to watch the episodes before they were shown because I was quite confident.
"What I saw in episode five, [Campos] crossed the line.
"I feel, again, really uncomfortable. But I have to protect my work. A series on HBO like this will get huge attention. And if people think what they’re watching is true, that’s really damaging for us. I’m really sorry, because I don’t want to damage the career of a talented director like Antonio. Because he is a very talented director. But in this case, he did something wrong."
The French filmmaker and producer Matthieu Belghiti who worked on the 2004 Peabody Award-winning documentary has written a letter to Campos demanding that either "the offending allegations be removed from episode five before it airs publicly" or that the series have a disclaimer added to each episode. This disclaimer would emphasise that the story is "inspired" by real-life events.