Sophie Brunet, played by Juliette Binoche in The Staircase

The Staircase: Are Sophie Brunet and Michael Peterson still in a relationship?

Both parties are unhappy with their relationship's depiction in the HBO Max/Sky Atlantic drama

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The Staircase on Sky Atlantic explores Michael Peterson’s relationship with Sophie Brunet from episode 5.

And the drama’s inclusion of his romantic entanglement with Sophie, an editor on the original The Staircase documentary, has caused considerable upset.

The Staircase drama series – starring Colin Firth and Juliette Binoche as the lovers – has been accused of misrepresenting the couple, who were together from 2004 to 2017.

Read on to learn more about Sophie Brunet, her relationship with Michael Peterson and the fallout from HBO Max/Sky Atlantic’s depiction…

Juliette Binoche as Sophie Brunet in The Staircase
Juliette Binoche as Sophie Brunet in HBO Max/Sky Atlantic’s drama The Staircase (Credit: Sky Atlantic)

Read more: Opinion – why the glossy The Staircase drama should never have been made

Who is Sophie Brunet?

French-born Sophie is a successful film and TV editor.

She worked on the early and final episodes of Netflix documentary series, The Staircase.

More recently, Sophie – played by iconic French actress Juliette Binoche – has worked on French drama Call My Agent and eco-thriller The Inside Game.

The Staircase with Colin Firth looking tense as Michael Peterson
Colin Firth as Michael Peterson, and Julette Binoche as Sophie Brunet in The Staircase dramatisation (Credit: HBO Max)

When did Sophie Brunet begin a relationship with Michael Peterson?

Sophie began corresponding with Michael when he was sent to prison after being found guilty of the murder of his wife Kathleen.

She strongly felt there had been a miscarriage of justice and would often send books to author Michael in prison.

According to French newspaper Le Monde, Sophie first met Michael in 2004 and travelled from Paris to Durham, North Carolina a total of 17 times to visit him in prison.

They went public with the relationship in 2011, but it ended in 2017.

After the split, Sophie then worked on the final instalment of the documentary, which aired on Netflix in 2018.

The drama series suggests that Sophie was editing episodes of the original The Staircase in 2003, while she was already with Michael.

This didn’t happen.

But she did edit all five of the episodes of The Staircase that director Jean-Xavier de Lestrade shot after 2003, following Michael’s appeals process.

According to Vanity Fair, she was with Michael during the editing of the first three of these episodes, but not the final two.

What has Sophie Brunet said of her depiction in The Staircase?

Sophie told Vanity Fair magazine that her relationship with Michael began far later than episode 5 of The Staircase suggests.

She also stressed that her feelings for Michael in no way affected her editorial duties.

In an email to Vanity Fair, Sophie wrote: “My relationship with Michael never affected my editing. I never, ever cut anything out that would be damaging for him. I have too big an opinion of my job to be even remotely tempted to do anything like that. And Jean would never let it happen anyway.”

Read more: The Staircase feud – Netflix director slams HBO drama director

Michael recently added during an interview with This Morning: “To suggest that she had skewered the documentary to make it look that way, no, she didn’t do that,” he said before adding: “And besides that, Jean, who was the director never would have allowed that. That’s questioning both of their integrities.”


Sophie went on to claim that she told the drama’s director Antonio Campos: “I told him specifically that I could tell him, as a friend, some aspects of [the relationship], but that I did not want to be a character in his [project].”

She was also unhappy to discover the drama depicts her pushing Michael to take the Alford plea, which would ensure he would not face a return to prison, stating: “I know, for instance — because [director] Antonio [Campos] told me so — that in the series, Sophie pushes Michael to take the Alford plea in order to start a new life.

Read more: Who are Kathleen Peterson’s children?

“This is disturbing to me: I would never have done this. First because what was at stake was too serious for me to give any advice. I was not the one who could end up in jail for the rest of my life.

“And second because I felt, on the contrary, that Michael could and should fight to prove his innocence. I did not try and influence him this way either.”

Michael Peterson contemplates his life
Michael Peterson changed his mind about moving to Paris with Sophie Brunet (Credit: YouTube/Netflix)

Why did Sophie Brunet and Michael Peterson end their relationship?

After Michael took the Alford plea, there were plans for him to move to Paris to be with Sophie.

But ultimately he decided that would be a bad decision for himself – he doesn’t speak French, was already 73.

And for his children and grandchildren – their lives had already been through so much upheaval.

Of their relationship, Sophie has said: “I had great times, took care of someone, learned many things about myself and about others. I made friends, I became familiar with many wonderful aspects of the US.”

What do you think of the Sophie Brunet and Michael Peterson relationship in The Staircase on Sky Atlantic?