Where is The Staircase filmed - and what happened to Michael Peterson's house?

It's the crime docu-series that has got everyone talking, now fans want to know more.

The Staircase HBO Max
(Image credit: HBO Max)

It's the crime docu-series that has got everyone talking, now fans are wondering where is The Staircase filmed?

HBO Max Original show The Staircase is a true story, which runs for eight episodes - available to watch on Sky TV and NOW in the UK. It stars Colin Firth as Michael Peterson and Toni Collette as Kathleen Peterson. In the series, crime novelist Michael is accused of killing his wife Kathleen after she is found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their home and the 16-year judicial battle that followed.

So whether you're up to date with the episodes or are just starting the series, we look at where the show was filmed...

Where is The Staircase filmed?

The Staircase is filmed in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite Peterson's real-life family home - situated in North Carolina - being used in a previous Netflix documentary, the original home was NOT used for this TV series. Instead, the show was filmed in its entirety in Georgia. Filming began on June 7, 2021 and wrapped by the end of November that same year.

Although the story almost exclusively unravels in North Carolina, logistical reasons meant that film crews chose to film in Atlanta. They used several residential neighbourhoods in metro Atlanta and Toni Collette was spotted filming a scene in a park in Georgia in mid-2021.

Joining Colin Firth and Toni Collette are Michael Stuhlbarg, Juliette Binoche, Dane DeHaan, Olivia DeJonge, Rosemarie DeWitt, Tim Guinee, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner who has just welcomed her second child, Vincent Vermignon, Odessa Young and Parker Posey.

Where is Michael Peterson's Durham home?

Michael Peterson’s Durham home is located in North Carolina. It might look familiar to some film fans as it was the home location for the 1990 movie The Handmade’s Tale starring Robert Duvall, Faye Dunaway and Natasha Richardson. In the movie, it was used as the Commander’s home and both the exterior shots and the wood-paneled study are recognisable from The Staircase.

Built in 1940 by John Adams Buchanan, the home was designed by Durham architect George Watts Carr Sr. Michael Peterson is said to have bought the house in 1992, according to OpenDurham but it was put up for sale when Michael Peterson went to prison in 2003. First listed at $1.175 million it was reduced to $975k and ended up being sold for a snip of the asking price at $640k. The home has had several owners over the years and it was given a makeover in 2020 with refinished hardwood floors, an updated kitchen, and a beautiful spiral staircase. There were no photos of the back staircase where Kathleen died, and a photo of the backyard showed the swimming pool to be drained.

A large fountain near the pool when the Petersons lived there seemed to have been removed. However, the staircase where Kathleen Peterson died can be seen in The Handmaid’s Tale as there is a scene filmed on the back staircase. The 2018 documentary series The Staircase used the Peterson home as the setting for the majority of the first eight episodes. But the 2022 HBO Max series of The Staircase was filmed in Georgia so the original property wasn’t used.

What happened to Micheal Peterson’s House?

Michael Peterson sold his house in 2004 - some 12 years after he first bought it. The property was put up for sale in 2003 when he went to prison but finally sold for $640k - a lot less than it was marketed for ($1.175m). The house was bought by Jason Balius, the former co-owner of the Mad Hatter Bakeshop in Durham. The new owner did renovations before placing it back on the market in 2007 and it had numerous owners since then.

Today, the home is thought to still be under the ownership of AZAD III LLC - which bought the property in 2020 for $1.6m, and according to the NC Secretary of State Office the owner is thought to be Ramsey Shehadeh who works for the company listed.

The Staircase HBO Max

(Image credit: HBO Max)

Is the Staircase a documentary?

The Staircase is a mini docu-series - which is slightly different from a documentary - as it is a television series that follows Michael Peterson's trial and his involvement in the murder of his wife Kathleen back in 2001.

The NYC premiere of the HBO Max show was held earlier this week at the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown Manhattan and saw pregnant Sophie Turner walk the red carpet alongside her husband Joe Jonas. The couple already have a daughter Willa, aged one, together as she shielded her latest bum under a black double-breasted blazer dress.

Sophie told Elle UK, "I was completely obsessed with the [2018 Netflix] documentary and binged it Because it's a real woman's family, there is that intrigue and excitement, but it's also quite harrowing to be a part of. You're living those characters."

Sophie said playing Oscar winner Colin Firth's onscreen daughter for nine months on the Atlanta set was "like I won a contest."

"Michael Peterson has very specific mannerisms. Watching Colin transform into him was amazing,' Sophie noted. "It's very different from the suave Colin we know and love."

The Staircase airs on HBO Max from May 5th, 2022.

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)