It’s been 26 years since Harrison Ford last made an acting appearance on TV (not counting talk show bits like the time he talked his old pal Chewbacca off a ledge for Jimmy Kimmel.) Ford’s last in-character TV gig happened all the way back in 1993, when he lent his increasingly grizzled visage (briefly) to The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles; before that, you have to look all the way back to the 1970s, when he’d pick up work in TV movies, or doing single episode stints on stuff like Gunsmoke.
So what could draw this famed boob-tube agnostic back to the smaller screen? How about a chance to indulge in one of Ford’s most beloved sub-genres of roles: Guys Who May Or May Not Have Murdered Their Girlfriends Or Wives.
That’s right: The man who brought you Presumed Innocent, The Fugitive, and What Lies Beneath has signed on for another role in the spotlight o’ suspicion, albeit with a twist. This time, Ford will be taking on the role of a real-life suspect, Michael Peterson, the crime novelist whose trial for murder in relation to the death of his wife Kathleen in 2001 served as the subject matter for Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s long-running docueseries The Staircase. Although it originally aired in 2004, de Lestrade’s series has been expanded twice since then, covering a period in which Peterson has been tried, convicted, released, re-tried, and, ultimately, convinced to issue an Alford plea, in which he pleaded guilty to manslaughter, while still maintaining his innocence in Kathleen’s death. (Also, there’s a whole, surprisingly plausible, thing about how maybe his wife was murdered by an owl.) The rights to the series were picked up by Netflix, which commissioned two more episodes of the show last year.
Meanwhile, this fictionalized version is in the hands of Annapurna Television, which tapped The Sinner’s Antonio Campos to write and produce. Ford, then, is a pretty amazing get; fans of the docuseries will recognize that his public persona is already a damn good fit for Peterson’s brand of grouchily confident charisma, and the mere news of his name being attached to the project is likely to skyrocket the show’s prospects of nailing down an eventual prestige release.