Rachelle Lefevre wasn't looking for a new gig when Mary Kills People came knocking at her door, but the chance to play a badass new foe for Dr. Mary Harris (Caroline Dhavernas) wasn't one she was about to pass up.
Seven years ago, Lefevre and Dhavernas co-starred in ABC's shortlived medical drama, Off the Map, and ever since then, the two have become "good friends" -- so much so that Lefevre was already a fan of Mary Kills People when she joined the cast to play the mysterious Olivia Bloom in season two. Lefevre, who many may be familiar with from Twilight and Under the Dome, didn't know much about Olivia from the outset -- just that she would go toe to toe with Mary -- and went on "good faith" that the show's writers would "continue to be good writers."
Lefevre's trust in the writers paid off. Olivia, who turns out to be Grady's sister -- the same Grady who Mary and Des (Richard Short) framed and killed at the end of season one -- may just be one of the most intriguing and powerful women Mary, who begins the season content with providing assisted suicide on her own terms, will ever face.
Ahead of Monday's U.S. premiere, Lefevre teases what's to come in the new season and why Olivia is the devil on Mary's shoulder.
ET: What made you a fan of Mary Kills People?
Rachelle Lefevre: It was the perfect combination of being a really good, entertaining show to watch and also handling a difficult subject with a lot of integrity. Also, it really pushes the audience to go case by case. What's interesting to me about those larger issues -- those hot-button issues, like assisted suicide, where people have an opinion that they want to give to you for an hour in your face -- it's easy to have an overall view. But then when you examine it and you give people different examples, you shake them because at some point, you're going to hit an example where they start to waver and say, "Oh, I don't know." Because the show handles an assisted suicide every week, I feel like I've had conversations with people where they're like, "Oh sh*t, I never thought of that situation."
Your character, Olivia Bloom, is quite a fascinating woman. One of the first times we meet her is the moment she tells Des she wants to put a hit on her husband. What did you like about what she brought to the table?
I'm attracted to characters who aren't exactly likable. I really enjoy playing characters who frustrate an audience because no human being is likable all the time. What's interesting about Mary and Olivia together is Mary is a character who seems like a good person who sometimes does the wrong thing. It would be just as easy to box Olivia the opposite way and say she seems like a bad person who sometimes does a good thing. Not knowing if Olivia is a bad guy is what's more interesting for an audience week to week.
We also learn fairly early on that Olivia is Grady’s sister. How did you approach that added layer to her identity?
Half of my work was already done for me before I got there by Greg Byrk, who played Grady. [Grady provided the drug, phenobarbital, to Mary and Des in season one.] Knowing right off the bat that I was playing Grady’s sister, all I really had to do was study his performance and the work that he had created and ask myself: What was it like growing up in that family and to have him as a brother? How did he end up like that? What would I be like if I grew up in the same house that created him? What happened to them? It was a gift to step into something that had already been so well thought out and fully formed.
You've worked with Caroline before on Off the Map. How different was this experience working together?
It was incredibly different. The first time Caroline and I worked together, we had a ton of fun and [Off the Map] was a lighter show. When her and I were going head to head together on the show, oftentimes the source of our tension was a really common one on TV: It was over a guy, which is only interesting for a short amount of time and then it's just not interesting anymore. [Mary Kills People] was different because we literally got to go toe to toe, size each other up, face off and each hold our ground. There was a stillness in that that was interesting to play. What we found ourselves on the opposite sides of was way deeper than it being about a man -- literally life and death.
How would you describe Olivia and Mary's unique bond?
The reason that they're so linked and that they end up in such an intense relationship is because they're drawn to each other. They're very attracted to each other and I don't mean just sexually -- every now and then, for people who watch, it does pop up. There is a sexual energy that happens between us; they didn't write it that way, it just came out of nowhere. Sexual attraction aside, Mary longs for the dark side. She keeps dipping her toe in that water. She keeps stepping farther and farther in and pushing the boundaries of what is OK, and Olivia senses that in her. Mary gets darker and darker every time Olivia baits her. I don't think it's a cat-and-mouse game, I think it's a little bit of "Take my hand. I'll show you what's possible."
Is Olivia ultimately redeemable?
Whether it's upbringing, whether it's something in her that's broken, whether she actually enjoys it, there are different reasons why we make the choices we make. Is Olivia redemptive? Do her choices change as she goes along or does she keep making the same ones over and over again? I like to let the audience decide.
How would you describe season two?
This season is darker and it's much more challenging for an audience. It's intriguing because you do a deep dive into the character of Mary and her relationship with Des gets really interesting and very complicated. The six or seven days between episodes are going to be long for fans of the show.
Mary Kills People premieres Monday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.
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