Sophie Turner has always loved the true crime genre. “I am totally drawn in and totally fascinated by it. I don't know why it turned out that way, but I love it," shares the actress with a laugh. "I'm investing, I'm inside. Keep coming back!"
Turner, who grew up as the tragic heroine Sansa Stark on the hit series before millions of viewers.To war two thrones,Came Home on HBOThe stairs-a dramatized account of the trial of Michael Peterson. Peterson, an American writer, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his second wife, Kathleen Peterson, who was found dead at the bottom of a staircase. In an even stranger-than-fiction twist, it was revealed that Elizabeth Ratliff, a Peterson family friend, died in Germany in 1985 from a similar fall down a flight of stairs.
Turner plays Margaret Ratliff, whom Michael adopted after the death of his mother and father. She enjoyed the challenge of playing a nonfiction character for the first time. “It was a whole different type of ball game for me. We were very fortunate to be able to keep our director in touch with some of the people involved in the case, including Margaret. It was a kind of information point for the family, for [executive producer] Antonio Campos and for all of us.”
Although the real Margaret added nuance and context to her on-screen performance, Turner had no personal contact with her. "She just wanted to keep it to herself and Antonio, and she didn't want to have these deep discussions with me, which I fully understand and respect. I think this is one of the most traumatic times of her life and I wouldn't dwell on it.
Forward,BAZAR.comsat down with Turner via Zoom to talk more about her new role, her thoughts on the US justice system, and what she expects from viewers.the stairswalks away regarding the trial of Michael Peterson.
How familiar were you with the Michael Peterson case before joining this project?
The first time I heard it was in the documentary. When the documentary came out on Netflix, like the rest of the world, he was completely obsessed. I've been all over the forums looking for discussions that contained theories and speculation. I'm a real fan of crime fiction so I was really interested. Then I found out they were doing the show so I was good to go.
What was so impressive about watching the documentary and drama series is that Margaret has an unwavering belief in Michael's innocence, especially when he was revealed to be bisexual and Margaret said, "I don't care." Does his sexual orientation affect the study? Did you feel there was some kind of negative bias?
Absolutely. I think back then, that was a little over 10 years ago, people would use something like ammunition against someone in a lawsuit. Of course there was prejudice against him because of that. To be honest, I think it's irrelevant and unnecessary and I think there will always be some kind of discrimination against people, especially men in the LGBTQIA community.
In fact, Margaret only had two constants in her life: her sister Martha and Michael, who has been with us since day one. I think the idea of her losing her father is too scary for her to understand. I think she puts her opinions aside and just clings to life and remains loyal to her father. It's almost like Stockholm Syndrome, I guess. He was her savior. He was the one who adopted her, who kept her and her sister together. We will see that in the series. He's her "her super dad," as she puts it on the show, and I think the idea that he couldn't be that scares him too much to explore it.
What's interesting about that?the stairsit's that viewers will walk away not knowing if Michael is truly innocent or guilty, but there is a certain stance in the American justice system. What are his personal opinions?
I believe that the American justice system is absolutely corrupt and that is nothing new to any of us. That's the main reason Michael isn't in jail right now. Because one of the district attorney's witnesses was caught lying about the case. And using Michael's sexuality as ammunition against him is another example of this. It's layer upon layer of corruption, which is exciting for us because we feel like we're not telling something that's already been told on this show. We are telling a whole new story, a whole new truth.
This series is also about the court of public opinion that has been exacerbated by social media. As a celebrity, how did you manage to deal with rumors about you and your loved ones that aren't even true?
You have to smile and endure a lot. I think you just have to sit down and be calm and accept that a lot of bad things are going to come out. Most of the time it comes down to, "Well, I don't want to call attention to a lie, so I'm just not going to talk about it." But then you almost accept the lie as truth because you don't fight back. Obviously there is a lot more at stake in this process, in this story that we are telling, but there is definitely a relationship.
Colin Firth and Toni Collette play her parents. What was it like working with them and what did you learn from them in terms of work ethic?
Working with both has been an absolute dream of mine for years. Seeing Toni on set and how she carries herself is very inspiring to me. She's obviously one of the best actresses we've got. She is a boss. She walks into this set and she knows what she wants, she knows what she can do in the given time. She has been in this industry for decades and expects a high level of professionalism from you. That's something I think every set needs: someone to take control and make the decisions and knows what they're talking about. I was absolutely inspired to see her work ethic. What a wonderful woman!
Colin is just the most beautiful person. She really couldn't believe that he was getting something like a front row ticket to see Colin transform the way he does with Michael Peterson. I couldn't believe how lucky I was to witness this up close. When you're in the presence of Toni and Colin and they're doing their thing, you know you're in the presence of a truly great actor.
Ultimately, what are your hopes for viewers of this series in relation to Michael Peterson and the US justice system in general?
I hope viewers get to see who Kathleen Peterson was as a person and what she was like. I think we've heard this story a million times about the man who may have pushed her wife down the stairs, but we haven't heard much about her, who she was and what her life was like.
The other thing would be the ramifications that come with assumptions and guesswork. In this process, in this case, in this incident, there was layer upon layer of guesswork and guesswork, prejudice and corruption. The danger of conjecture is very clear in this narrative and I hope viewers realize that they are now looking at the family and how it is affecting people who are on the fringes of this core of this case and seeing the impact and the domino effects. the effect is incredibly profound. I think that's something we're going to put aside, to think a little bit more about what we're accepting and what that might lead to. This interview has been abridged and edited for clarity.
This interview has been abridged and edited for clarity.