An old and very dear friend, Toronto casting director Anne Tait, got in touch with us in the wake of the death of a true legend: Peter O’Toole.

Peter O'Toole & Sun Li

Tait cast and co-produced the 2009 feature Iron Road, also shown later as a miniseries. It’s a period love story set in the 1880s, when crews of Chinese workers worked tirelessly in the Canadian Rockies to complete the Pacific National Railway.

O’Toole plays the part of Relic, a reprobate tutor counseling a young Chinese woman who disguises herself as a man in order to work on one of the crews. Under that cover, she eventually falls in love with the son of a railroad tycoon. Tait previously cast O’Toole in a pair of Toronto stage productions of Uncle Vanya and Present Laughter at the Royal Alex Theatre.

“At that time, I drove him and his 6’3” frame around Toronto in a tiny Volkswagen Beetle,” Tait tells FishbowlNY. “His knees were bent up under his chin! And when he completed work on Iron Road, he told me that he loved the character of Relic and working with Sun Li [a.k.a. Betty Sun], who played the Chinese heroine. He admired her discipline, improvised dialogue with her and called her ‘a little warrior’.”

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