The Jack Layton TV movie goes into production

Veteran Canadian TV actor Rick Roberts is embarking on the role of a lifetime, playing the part of the political leader who captured the hearts of Canadians in the last federal election.

Roberts is playing Jack Layton in Smilin’ Jack: The Jack Layton Story, a made-for-television movie that began shooting in Winnipeg on August 5th. It’s a role he has enjoyed researching, and also found challenging to prepare for.

“It’s been a pleasure looking into the life of such a multi-faceted man. I’ve had to learn to speak Cantonese and French, and play the guitar. Jack Layton was an incredible athlete, and I like to lie on the couch – so this in itself has been challenging. The most intriguing part has been trying to embody his passion for life, his generosity, and his resolve to follow his vision in spite of overwhelming odds.”

A favourite with audiences for over two decades, Rick Roberts is arguably one of Canada’s most versatile actors. He stars in Michael McGowan’s latest feature Still, and Laurent Cantet’s Foxfire. His performance as Jim Jones was unforgettable in Three Days to Jonestown. Recent work includes guest starring on Saving Hope (CTV/NBC), Copper (BBC America), and Cracked (CBC).

He has appeared in The Republic of Doyle (CBC), The Murdoch Mysteries (CTV), Crash & Burn (Showcase), and many other series and movies. He headlined An American in Canada (CBC), LA Doctors (CBS), and Traders (CBC), for which he received a Gemini nomination in 1998.

Joining Roberts is Sook-Yin Lee as Olivia Chow. A successful broadcaster, musician, actress, and filmmaker, Lee is one of Canada’s best-known pop culture icons. Playing the role of Olivia Chow is one that Lee personally connects with.

“I am humbled and honoured to be playing Olivia Chow, in a project that is near and dear to me. Just over a year ago my little sister Deanna was diagnosed with cancer, and I saw firsthand the kind of strength and courage it takes to live with the disease. Jack and Olivia were an amazing team in life, love and politics. They cut through bureaucracy and remained accessible to people. It will be a challenge for me to embody Olivia in all her beautiful complexity. I hope to serve her well.”

Sook-Yin Lee starred in the adventurous sex comedy Shortbus, which premiered at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, and earned her the 2007 Best Supporting Actress award from the International Cinephile Society. Lee wrote, directed and starred in The Brazilian, a chapter in the movie Toronto Stories. The 2009 film Year of the Carnivore is her feature film debut as writer-director. She also co-created its Genie-nominated score and concept album, Original Music From and Inspired by the Movie Year of the Carnivore, with Buck 65 and Adam Litovitz.

Also in the cast are Wendy Crewson (Air Force One) and Erin Karpluk (Being Erica).

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