As an overworked ER doctor and single mother who also moonlights as an underground ‘angel of death’ in the new drama Mary Kills People, Canadian actress Caroline Dhavernas gets to flex her dramatic muscles as the complex and many-faceted Dr Mary Harris.
Working outside the law to help patients who want to die on their own terms, the character faces plenty of “grey zones” – but as former Hannibal star Caroline tells us, she relished being able to dive into those complicated scenes.
“I thought it was beautifully written – the tone could have been a little depressing given the subject matter, but there are some comedy and thriller elements as well as the drama, so it’s pretty exciting [to watch],” she reveals.
“There’s [also] the family life you see her living and all the lies she has to tell just to continue to do what she feels is right, so there was a lot of depth there and grey zones. For an actor, it’s really what you want to play.”
While the subject matter at the heart of the show is one that has caused controversy around the globe, Caroline says she never saw it that way.
“It’s funny, I didn’t see it as controversial so much … in Canada, maybe even months before we started shooting, it became legal for doctors to help their patients. So to me we have been ready as a society to make that decision.
“When I started promoting it, that’s when I realised it was controversial because everyone was saying that it was, and I knew some countries were resistant in buying it because of the subject matter.”
Personally, the actress reveals it wasn’t difficult to understand where the character was coming from.
“I have no problem understanding why it was important for her to do this and I understand her point of view deeply,” she says. “I didn’t have to struggle to understand where she was coming from or to agree with what she’s doing.”
Ultimately, however, Caroline says the show plays an important role in prompting discussion about a divisive topic.
“I think it’s important to talk about subject matters that are complicated and sensitive because we need to talk about them more often – we shouldn’t shy away from having a debate about it.”
Mary Kills People premieres on SKY Box Sets on Saturday, August 26