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Toni Collette Shot Each ‘Staircase’ Death Scene in One Take After Speaking to Kathleen Peterson in Her Head

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Hunter Ingram Each morning as Toni Collette brushes her teeth, an owl stares back at her.The stoic bird of prey is not perched outside her window but rather ornately sitting on her countertop, contorted into the shape of a ceramic coffee mug that she places her toothbrush into before she starts her day.“It’s there looking at me daily — twice a day if I’m dentally honest,” Collette says. “Maybe I need a new receptacle.”Even if its days as her morning companion are numbered, the mug is a surreal artifact of her newly Emmy-nominated turn as Kathleen Peterson, a North Carolina woman found dead at the bottom of her stairs in 2001 — a case dramatized by HBO Max’s true crime limited series “The Staircase.” The shocking death occupied headlines for months as her husband, Michael Peterson (played by Colin Firth), was tried and convicted of her murder — all of it later chronicled in a 2004 French documentary also called “The Staircase.” The making of that doc was part of the 2022 series.After years behind bars and later house arrest, Peterson was released in 2017 when he accepted an Alford plea, a paradoxical agreement in which he pleaded guilty but maintained his innocence.

While he was in prison, however, a now-infamous theory circulated that placed the blame for Kathleen’s death at the talons of an angry neighborhood owl — hence why someone connected to the series gifted her the mug.Collette has been on a hot streak of TV projects lately, coming off two Netflix limited series “Pieces of Her” and “Unbelievable,” which scored her an Emmy nomination in 2020.

She previously won the Emmy for lead comedy actress for Showtime’s “United States of Tara.”But “The Staircase” posed an intriguing challenge for the Australian actor.

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