Well, there is — and there also most definitely isn’t, Rudolf says.
It’s true that, in 2018, while promoting the Netflix docuseries “The Staircase,” the real-life de Lestrade suggested that Peterson and Brunet had formed a relationship while he was in prison and following his release in 2011. De Lestrade said it ended in May 2017.
Actually, let’s allow Rudolf to explain: The Sophie character in the dramatized HBO series is supposed to be Sophie Brunet, one of the three real-life editors who worked for de Lestrade on the docuseries. She edited the outside-the-courtroom footage that appears in the first four episodes of that docuseries, and then left to work on another film. Two other editors were responsible for editing all of the in-the-courtroom footage, which made up the bulk of Episodes 5 through 8.
(Interestingly, although de Lestrade is credited as a co-executive producer on the HBO show, he reportedly was not involved at all in the creation or development of it; also, although de Lestrade is white in real-life, the show cast a Black actor, Vermignon, in the role.)
With that said, here’s what Rudolf — who says he also was not consulted by the filmmakers, and says he has stayed in touch with de Lestrade over the years — told The Charlotte Observer about HBO’s depiction of Brunet:
“The implication that Jean made the documentary with the intention that it would exonerate Michael is just wrong and completely unfair. I mean, there was a lot of footage that he could have included in the documentary that would have been favorable to Michael that did not make it to the final cut. For example, we found the Army CID (Criminal Investigation Division) agent who went to the scene in Germany, and said there was no blood. He testified to that in court during the trial, under oath, and we put his contemporaneous report into evidence. His testimony and report were totally inconsistent with what the women from Germany (who testified for the prosecution about alleged “flashbacks”) said.
“So, there was footage on either side that could have been included in the final cut, that wasn’t, because Jean and the two editors who were preparing the final cut after Sophie left in October 2003 were compressing hundreds of hours of footage into an eight-hour documentary. Choices had to made. You can take issue with what was included and what wasn’t — which I do — but to ascribe an ulterior motive to those necessary choices is beyond unfair to an Academy Award-winning documentarian. It taints his work, his reputation, and his legacy — without any basis in fact. It’s a cheap trick to pump ratings.”
Here is a curated selection of Rudolf’s reactions to other key moments in Episode 4.
Did Martha have a meltdown?