HBO Max’s crime series ‘The Staircase’ offers several vignettes of Michael Peterson’s life with Sophie Brunet, the editor of Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s renowned eponymous docuseries. In the show, Sophie is a significant presence in Michael’s life after the conclusion of his trial. In the fourth episode, Jean-Xavier interviews Sophie to learn more about her ambiguous relationship with Michael.
In the interview, Sophie tells Jean-Xavier that she got acquainted with Michael while editing the director’s documentary footage. If you are eager to know more about what happened with Sophie and Michael after their initial acquaintance and the nature of their relationship, let us be your ally!
Did Sophie and Michael Date in Real Life?
Yes, Sophie and Michael did date in real life. Sophie, who was in France at the time, got acquainted with Michael’s private life while editing Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s docuseries. She initially sent a letter to Michael while he was in prison, introducing her, and offered to send him books, which turned out to be the starting point of a series of letters. Gradually, their relationship grew, and they began dating. “This [Michael and Sophie’s relationship] is one of the incredible things that happened during those 15 years. Life is really full of surprises. They had a real story,” Jean-Xavier de Lestrade told L’Express.
Sophie and Michael’s relationship blossomed without each other meeting considerably. According to Michael, the couple only met two or three times a year while he was in prison. The docuseries, along with the letters, helped her get to know more about him. “The way that [Sophie and Michael’s] relationship evolved over time speaks to a different way that documentaries have impacts on people. You can believe you know someone through documentary filmmaking,” Maggie Cohn, the showrunner of the show, told Vanity Fair.
The editor also kept her professional commitment apart from her relationship with Michael. “But she [Sophie] never let her own feelings affect the course of editing,” Jean added. In her initial letter, Sophie had expressed to Michael that he is innocent in her eyes and described his sentence as a “great injustice.” When Michael got released from prison, he visited her in France and they started to spend quality time together, mostly in France and the United States.
Are Sophie and Michael Still Together?
No, Sophie and Michael are not together anymore. “We made plans to live in Paris. Then I went and realized, no, I can’t. I can’t live in Paris. I don’t speak French. I’m too old. I couldn’t afford to live in Paris and my children, and grandchildren were in America,” Michael told The News & Observer. “And she [Sophie] said, well, if you can’t commit to love with me all the time, let’s end it and it was a great blow to both of us. […] I could not give her what she really needed and deserved,” he added about their separation, which transpired in 2017.
In the same interview, Michael expressed his wish to be present with his family as a grandfather after all the eventful years. After the breakup, he published two books, ‘Behind the Staircase’ and ‘Beyond the Staircase,’ about his life with regard to Kathleen’s murder, the subsequent trial, imprisonment, and life after getting released.
On the other hand, Sophie is still a renowned editor in the French television industry. Her most recent project is the second season of ‘The Inside Game,’ co-created by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade. Sophie and Michael had to part ways when their priorities became different. Still, their extraordinary togetherness, which lasted till 2017, is an essential chapter of Michael’s life.