It’s time for a new Mary Kills People Postmortem! This week, Greg Bryk joins me to break down Episode 3, “Wave the White Flag.” This was a huge episode for Greg’s character, Grady, especially the added complications that he brings into Mary’s life.
Grady is such an intriguing and terrifying character. Can you share a bit about bringing Grady to life?
The character was really exciting right from the first time Amy [Cameron] sent me the “kairos/chronos” monologue. I felt that that type of crazy was exactly what I wanted to get my hands on at that moment. It was a real pleasure shooting Season 1.
I enjoy being Grady and I think we found some things with him that maybe the writers didn’t even expect. Some stuff came out in the playing with Caroline [Dhavernas] — between Mary and Grady — that was interesting and not necessarily what they had planned. To their credit, they had the confidence to allow things unfold as it wanted to. It really was a joy to create this character with them. I’ve known all of [the creative team] off and on in different capacities over the years. I’m proud to be part of it to be perfectly honest. As a husband and father of two sons and a young girl, to see this collection of women create such a dynamic and strong story, and to have the opportunity to tell that story, it was great to do my little part.
Grady becomes a much larger part of the story in “Wave the White Flag,” and becomes a real threat to Mary.
The thing that I found interesting about Grady is that he’s clearly dangerous, but it’s not cliché. There’s almost a lost vulnerability that appealed to me. He’s crazy and he kills Sid without compunction, but he’s almost heartbroken by these little betrayals and by life. He’s searching for something, a poetry to existence that keeps eluding him, just outside of his grasp. He is seeking something pure — these human moments — whether it be through a drug experience, an intimate moment with Mary as the season goes on, or this relationship with Sid. [Life holds] a sense of betrayal and tragedy for Grady, and he’s crazy in equal measure.
It’s a big episode for Grady also because he gets involved with Mary’s daughter. Mary is not safe. In Episode 2, she realizes that the police are on to her and that side of her world is collapsing. Now, Grady’s invading her personal and work space. Things get much more dangerous for Mary starting now.
I’m really curious to see how Grady would react to finding out what Mary is actually using these drugs for. Since he is searching for something bigger, could this potentially give him the sense of purpose and meaning that he longs for?
You are going to see how that all plays out. The one blessing that I like to take in every performance is to become that character, really have the dance between me and the words on the page, and find this person who becomes a little bit of me. With Grady and his fascination with death — knowing the hour of your death and confronting that — there’s something really fascinating about what Mary helps people do. Even though all of them are terminal and facing incredible pain and suffering, the idea of ending it on the chosen hour, the chosen moment, the deliberate action of taking the glass to their lips and ending their life, to me, is very fascinating. Grady is lost — and a bit of a philosopher and a chaotic spiritualist in some ways — and I think Mary intrigues Grady. There’s a chemistry and an appeal because she’s authentic. She’s not afraid. There’s definitely a curiosity, bordering on unhealthy curiosity, that Grady starts to have for Mary.
Grady refers to himself as a businessman up until this episode, but there’s a line where he refers to himself and Mary as criminals. I don’t think Mary saw herself as a criminal until this point, and she certainly doesn’t think she’s on the same level as Grady.
As humans, a lot of times we don’t want to recognize that in ourselves. We create a narrative. In the same way that Grady is drawn to and respects Mary’s authenticity, I think Grady’s tremendously authentic as well. He recognizes it in himself. It’s frustrating [and you see it] in the earlier scene with Des where he says, “I may not be a doctor but I help people alleviate their suffering.” Well Mary might be a doctor, but she’s also a criminal like Grady’s a criminal. Of course she’s providing a service and has a moral reason for it, but it’s also against the law. She’s a criminal. If she wants to see herself that way or not is up to her, but she’s a criminal, and Grady’s a criminal.
We’re at a point in the story where Grady could become an ally to Mary, or he could be her biggest threat — even more than the police.
That’s a good observation, and that dynamic becomes more intense over the next few episodes. There’s a danger because the law has its consequences, but Grady has consequences and murder is not out of his realm of expression. That’s a language Grady speaks. The more those worlds become intertwined, death becomes very present — not just in the way she administers medicine, but in the fact that she’s dealing with a dangerous person. There’s an intimacy as the relationship moves on, not necessarily physical intimacy, but there is an intimacy at least from Grady’s side in reaching out. With that trust comes the danger of betrayal and unpredictability. This arc with Caroline was one of the more interesting that I’ve had as an actor. On the page, it could seem to be just adversarial, but we found something in the performance that was much less settled, much more uncomfortable. There was a real vulnerability on both sides. Each poses a risk for the other in very different ways.
The sequence in the SUV and the gunshot as Mary walks away was a major turning point in this story. I can’t stop thinking about that.
I really applaud both Holly [Dale] as the director of the six episodes, but also Tara and Marsha and Tassie and the writers. It’s a character-heavy piece but they build in tension and action and suspense, and pay the suspense off so the audience is always slightly uncomfortable. That scene is almost like a moment for Grady [asking Mary], “Do you want to see the truth? This is the truth and you’re now in my truth.” Grady drags Mary into this world, [makes her complicit] in a murder. In that scene, Grady is betrayed and hurt by [Sid], but something very cold emerges as well.
There’s a playfulness to Grady throughout other scenes. You know people who play with big cats at a reserve and you think, “Wow! That’s lovely.” But it’s still an apex predator. You could be cuddling with a full-grown lion and it may seem nice for this little Instagram clip, but the fact is it’s a lion. I think in this moment, Mary’s forced to confront who she’s in a car with, and that the consequences for betrayal are absolute. That extends past her to her family. Grady wouldn’t hesitate to kill any of them if they betrayed the rules that they are setting up, in the way that Sid betrayed Grady’s rules. I love the way it’s shot, with Mary walking away and that single gunshot, but that’s death, the same way that when [Mary’s clients] drink from the glass and the glass falls to the ground. In a way, Sid chose his death in the same way that Mary’s clients do. Death seems very inescapable in this moral world that they’re creating, both suddenly or deliberately. It’s exciting because the opposite of death is this incredible passion and uncertainty and seeking, wanting to hold these fragile connections; these relationships that let us know we’re here for now and it’s important and it has meaning.
They really set the tone in the first two episodes by introducing you to the world in a dramatic and interesting way. [Episodes] 3, 4, 5, and 6 have this momentum leading toward a thrilling climax at the end of Episode 6. Things really start to have a madness to them. It’s like a kite caught in a strong wind, and you’re holding on as it darts and dances across the sky.
Update 8/6/22: All three seasons of Mary Kills People are now streaming on Global TV in Canada and Roku Channel in the US.
Photos Courtesy of Global TV and Cameron Pictures.