Neill the ruthless
Actor Sam Neill stars in the made-for-television Canada-China co-production of Iron Road as ruthless Canadian railroad baron Alfred Nichol. The historical mini-series purports to tell the story of the thousands of Chinese labourers who built the trans-Canada railway in the late 1800s. Nichol’s ambition knows no bounds, imagining the coolies he’s hauling in from China by the shipload — one Chinese worker is said to have died for every mile of track — are so many replaceable cogs in his unstoppable machine. “It’s a part of Canadian history I knew nothing about till I saw the script,” Neill said. “The other day I walked by that rather magnificent memorial to Chinese railroad workers by Eldon Garnet and Francis LeBouthillier, and I was impressed to learn how large a story it is.” Work seems to keep coming Neill’s way, said the one-time documentary maker. “There are no guarantees in this business, and there’s nothing worse for an actor than being out of work. I like to keep busy.” He’s also starring — along with Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe — in the sci-fi vampire flick-with-a-twist, The Daybreakers, as part of September’s Midnight Madness series at the Toronto International Film Festival.