Based on the true story of the world-class triathlete Andreas Niedrig, which appeared in book form in 2000 as Vom Junkie zum Ironman, Ironman is being produced by Munich-based enigma film in co-production with Odeon Pictures, Lunaris Film- und Fernsehproduktion and Neue Kinowelt Filmproduktion with backing from Filmstiftung NRW, German Federal Film Board (FFA), FFF Bayern and the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF). Kinowelt will release the film theatrically in Germany.
Max Riemelt, whose previous credits include Napola and The Red Cockatoo, has been cast in the physically demanding role of Niedrig who had lived the life of a junkie and petty thief before radically changing direction and training to become one of the world's most successful triathletes.
'Max was in superb condition and muscular in Napola, but he had to really lose weight for this role and is now quite skinny for the scenes during Andreas' decline as a junkie in the Ruhr region,' producer and co-screenwriter Fritjof Hohagen told ScreenDaily. 'By May, he will have to look like a sportsman.'
Appearing opposite Riemelt are Jasmin Schwiers (Tattoo) as his wife Sabine, Axel Stein (Ants In Their Pants) as one of the friends in his group that pays the price for their drug addiction, and Uwe Ochsenknecht as his mentor and trainer.
Shooting continues in North Rhine-Westphalia and Amsterdam until the end of March with another three days in mid-May on Lanzarote during the Ironman championship where the real Niedrig will be competing.
Beta Cinema, whose line-up includes the Oscar-winning The Lives Of Others and Berlinale competition entry The Counterfeiters, is also handling international distribution for another enigma film production, Simon Gross' thriller Fata Morgana, starring Matthias Schweighoefer, Marie Zielcke and Jean-Hugues Anglade.