'Mary Kills People' Star Caroline Dhavernas on Doctor-Assisted Suicide: "Dying Is Not a Crime"

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Caroline Dhavernas

The 'Hannibal' actress is starring in the Lifetime and Global Television right-to-die drama.

The Lifetime and Global Television drama Mary Kills People, besides the steamy sex and police probes familiar to cable dramas, has a storyline certain to surprise, even divide, viewers with its portrayal of doctor-assisted suicide.

In fact, people die several times over in the Canadian drama that has Hannibal star Caroline Dhavernas playing Dr. Mary Harris, a single mother and an ER doctor who illegally helps people facing death end their lives with a lethal cocktail. When the police suspect she's a criminal, Harris has to fight to stay in the killing game.

Dhavernas recalled shooting the six-parter in Toronto in summer 2016, just as Canada decriminalized physician-assisted suicide for people facing a foreseeable death. "Dying is not a crime," she told The Hollywood Reporter ahead of Mary Kills People debuting on Global in Canada later this month.

"Personally, it's someone's right. If you have nothing but suffering ahead of you, we make choices for ourselves through our lives, and that's the final one," Dhavernas said of the drama's euthanasia plot. The deep emotions unleashed by the murder-or-mercy assisted-suicide debate, especially in the U.S., where the practice remains illegal in most states, are reflected in the characters portrayed in Mary Kills People.

"On our show, some characters are grappling and feel it's morally wrong. Others feel everyone should have the right to choose," Dhavernas explained. Even though Mary Kills People ultimately becomes a cat-and-mouse tale, pitting Dr. Harris against two cops out to bring down Dr. Death, Lifetime has embraced the ethics of assisted suicide.

"I know things are different in America, and that's why they were happy and taken with it — maybe they feel they [Americans] have a lot to talk about," Dhavernas said. The actress added that she thinks viewers shouldn't tune out because Mary Kills People captures people dying onscreen.

"Since the beginning of television, we've seen life and death situations. That's what people are drawn to. And these moments, where people die with dignity, are filled with emotion and intensity, and beauty and meaning. They're everything but depressing," Dhavernas said.

The drama from Entertainment One, Rookie Blue creator Tassie Cameron and Amy Cameron was created by Tara Armstrong. Jay Ryan (Top of the Lake), Richard Short (Vinyl), Lyriq Bent (The Book of Negroes), Greg Bryk (Bitten) and Charlotte Sullivan (Rookie Blue) also star.