Assisted death is a compelling, yanked-from-the-headlines topic but actress Rachelle Lefevre wants to make clear that the goal of the Global drama "Mary Kills People" is to entertain, not to preach.
The Montreal native joins the cast for the second season of the series, which debuts Jan. 3, and credits creator Tara Armstrong and executive producer Tassie Cameron for finding a way to "hit on something that touches a nerve, and also simultaneously makes you forget about your problems."
Lefevre plays the mysterious Olivia Bloom, a woman with ties to the title character's past. Reached on set in Toronto last fall, Lefevre was excited about her role, but dutifully tight-lipped about the details of her storyline and upcoming plot twists.
Returning to the title role is Caroline Dhavernas, starring as Mary Harris, an emergency room doctor by day, assisted-suicide enabler by night. Jay Ryan ("Beauty and the Beast") and English actor Richard Short ("Covert Affairs") also star along with new recruits Lefevre and Ian Lake ("Bitten").
With a close relative in long-term care, Lefevre has personal insight into how families struggle with this very issue.
As far as making a TV show, she also understands why the whole notion of a doctor moonlighting as an assisted-suicide counsellor makes "Mary Kills People" such a compelling drama.
"Whenever you're struggling the most, that's exactly when the universe sends something to tip the scales further in one direction or the other and create more chaos," says Lefevre. "That's what my character provides."
The ginger-haired 38-year-old made her U.S. network debut over a dozen years ago in the short-lived fast-food sitcom "Life on a Stick." She went on to become a fanboy crush as vampire Victoria Sutherland in the first two "Twilight" movies. Roles in features such as "Barney's Version" followed, as did a few American network misfires such as "Swingtown," "A Gifted Man" and "Off the Map." Lefevre jokingly says the latter was the only show that "Grey's Anatomy" executive producer Shonda Rhimes "put her name on that didn't become a massive hit. I never stop blaming myself."
She later found success on the CBS summer series "Under the Dome," which was based on the novel by bestseller Stephen King.
During production of the 2011 drama "Off the Map," Lefevre quickly struck up a friendship with fellow Quebecer Dhavernas.
"We stayed friends," says Lefevre, who checked out the first season of "Mary Kills People" before being asked to join for season 2.
"I already knew Caroline was doing brilliant work on it and that it was a great show."
Lefevre thinks the core issue of assisted suicide "is an important concept and an interesting conversation. If it wasn't an interesting conversation we wouldn't be having it nationally and throughout North America."
— Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.
Bill Brioux, The Canadian Press