Less than a year after his untimely death, the cameras have already started rolling on a made-for-TV Jack Layton biopic titled "Smilin' Jack: The Jack Layton Story."

Canadian actor Rick Roberts ("Republic of Doyle," "Pontypool") is playing Layton, while seasoned broadcaster, actress and filmmaker Sook-Yin Lee ("Year of the Carnivore") will tackle the role of Olivia Chow. "Being Erica"'s Erin Karpluk and "Air Force One"'s Wendy Crewson will also appear in the film.

Self-described couch potato Roberts has been ramping up his fitness routine to play the athletic Layton. He has also been brushing up on his French, Cantonese and guitar-playing skills to prepare to play the man of many, many talents.

Lee says this is a project close to her heart, since her little sister Deanna was diagnosed with cancer last year. "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," Lee noted in a release. "It will be a challenge for me to embody Olivia in all her beautiful complexity. I hope to serve her well. "

The movie is being shot in Winnipeg and will air on CBC Television.

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    Thousands gathered outside Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto, Ontario, on August 27, 2011 to watch the broadcast of the state funeral of Canadian opposition leader Jack Layton. Layton died August 22. (GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Remembering Jack

    Flowers are left in tribute for former Canadian opposition leader Jack Layton in front of the Parliament building on August 23, 2011 in Ottawa, Ontario. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday he regrets that he never 'jammed' with his friend and longtime rival, opposition leader Jack Layton, who died overnight of cancer at age 61. 'Now, as you know, Jack was a musician. He was quite a natural one at that,' Harper said outside the House of Commons. Jack Layton, whose popularity and political skill helped his New Democrats surge past the Liberals to become Canada's official opposition party. Layton died August 22 of cancer. He was 61. (MICHEL COMTE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Layton's Funeral

    The coffin containing NDP Opposition Leader Jack Layton is pictured during his state funeral in Toronto August 27, 2011. More than 2,000 people turned out Saturday, August 27, 2011 for the state funeral of Canada's former opposition chief Jack Layton, who died earlier this week of cancer -- a tribute celebrating his message of hope. Layton, whose New Democratic Party (NDP) surged past the Liberals in elections earlier this year to become Canada's official opposition, lost his battle with cancer on Monday. He was 61. (CHRIS WATTIE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Layton's Funeral

    The coffin containing NDP Opposition Leader Jack Layton is carried away during his state funeral in Toronto August 27, 2011. More than 2,000 people turned out Saturday, August 27, 2011 for the state funeral of Canada's former opposition chief Jack Layton, who died earlier this week of cancer -- a tribute celebrating his message of hope. Layton, whose New Democratic Party (NDP) surged past the Liberals in elections earlier this year to become Canada's official opposition, lost his battle with cancer on Monday. He was 61. (CHRIS WATTIE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Layton's Funeral

    Olivia Chow reacts during the state funeral for her husband NDP Opposition Leader Jack Layton in Toronto August 27, 2011. More than 2,000 people turned out Saturday, August 27, 2011 for the state funeral of Canada's former opposition chief Jack Layton, who died earlier this week of cancer -- a tribute celebrating his message of hope. Layton, whose New Democratic Party (NDP) surged past the Liberals in elections earlier this year to become Canada's official opposition, lost his battle with cancer on Monday. He was 61. (CHRIS WATTIE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Layton's Funeral

    Laureen Harper wipes her eye beside her husband Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the state funeral for NDP Opposition Leader Jack Layton in Toronto August 27, 2011. More than 2,000 people turned out Saturday August 27, 2011 for the state funeral of Canada's former opposition chief Jack Layton, who died earlier this week of cancer -- a tribute celebrating his message of hope. Layton, whose New Democratic Party (NDP) surged past the Liberals in elections earlier this year to become Canada's official opposition, lost his battle with cancer on Monday. He was 61. (MIKE CASSESE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Layton's Funeral

    Former Ontario NDP leader Stephen Lewis delivers the eulogy at the state funeral for the late New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jack Layton at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto, Ontario on August 27, 2011. Jack Layton, whose popularity and political skill helped his New Democrats surge past the Liberals to become Canada's official opposition earlier this year, has died at the age of 61. (Nathan Denette/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Layton's Funeral

    Olivia Chow (C) reacts during the eulogy at the state funeral for NDP Opposition Leader Jack Layton in Toronto August 27, 2011. More than 2,000 people turned out Saturday August 27, 2011 for the state funeral of Canada's former opposition chief Jack Layton, who died earlier this week of cancer -- a tribute celebrating his message of hope. Layton, whose New Democratic Party (NDP) surged past the Liberals in elections earlier this year to become Canada's official opposition, lost his battle with cancer on Monday. He was 61. (MIKE CASSESE/AFP/Getty Images)

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    A Police honor guard carry the coffin of Canadian opposition leader Jack Layton, following a state funeral in Toronto, Ontario on August 27, 2011. (GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

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