Caroline Dhavernas gets dark for ‘Mary Kills People’

Caroline Dhavernas (“Hannibal”) stars in Lifetime’s “Mary Kills People,” a dark comedy about a woman who does exactly what the title suggests.

In the series, Dhavernas plays Mary, a single mother, who saves lives as an ER doctor while moonlighting as an illegal assisted suicide physician, helping patients die with dignity.

amNewYork caught up with actress Dhavernas to discuss her latest show.

Did the levity of “Mary Kills People” make the controversial subject of assisted suicide less daunting?

Yes. After living those beautiful and meaningful moments with the patients, it gives us, as characters and as actors, a moment to decompress and have a laugh. Then we go back to those very charged moments.

There’s an interesting dichotomy about these two professions that conflict with one another. How was it to play two sides of the coin?

To me she’s the same person with her own contradictions and her own passions. She’s helping people survive and she’s helping people who are done with suffering die in peace. She doesn’t want to leave people alone in this. She knows that if she doesn’t help, they will be left alone with this decision.

Obviously death and the afterlife are themes. The show is very honest with how ambiguous the afterlife is. Do you hope the show will open up these conversations?

I hope so. I know when I invited my buddies over when the first episode aired in Canada, that’s exactly what happened. We turned off the television and we started talking about assisted dying. We all had our opinions on the matter. I thought, “If this is what this show can allow, then great.” It’s not a documentary on the subject, but it’s a good basis for a social debate.

What do you think a network like Lifetime brings to this specific project?

It really falls perfectly in their broad focus. They’re trying to help female directors and writers in hiring them. We can celebrate it now that this show was written, directed and produced by women — one day, maybe, we won’t have to talk about it anymore. Right now we’re at a stage in our society where we have to make room for women.

On TV: “Mary Kills People” premieres April 23 on Lifetime at 10 p.m.