EXCLUSIVE: German actor to star in film version of Tom Hillenbrand’s Devil’s Fruit.

Germany’s Moritz Bleibtreu has been cast as a “culinary Bond” in a film version of Tom Hillenbrand’s bestseller Devil’s Fruit (Teufelsfrucht) on the adventures of the Luxembourg chef and amateur sleuth Xavier Kieffer.

The €6m co-production between Luxembourg’s Iris Productions, France’s Rezo Productions, Germany’s Iris Productions Deutschland (IPD) - and possibly Belgium-based Iris Films - will be the second directorial outing for the Iris Group’s chief, producer Nicolas Steil after his 2009 film Réfracture.

“This will be a real European crime story in various languages and with actors coming from different parts of Europe,” IPD’s Andreas Eicher told Screen in an exclusive interview. “It has all the makings of a franchise as Hillenbrand’s books are set in different European countries “

Steil, who will shoot the film at locations in Luxembourg, France and Germany this autumn, has already optioned Hillenbrand’s other three mystery crime novels featuring Kieffer, Rotes Gold, Letzte Ernte and Tödliche Oliven.

He pointed out that Bleibtreu trained to be a cook before he became an actor and is still a passionate cook in his free time. In addition, Bleibtreu, who worked with Iris last year on Stephan Rick’s The Dark Side Of The Moon, is also a dab hand at taekwondo which will be useful for the film’s action sequences.

2014 also saw the Luxembourg end of the Iris Group serving as a co-delegate producer of Florian Gallenberger’s Colonia which stars Berlinale jury member Daniel Brühl and Emma Watson.

Boarding Echoes

IPD has also committed to co-produce Amikam Kovner and Assaf Snir’s Echoes with Israel’s Handsome Serge Productions and France’s Avenue b Productions in Israel this autumn.

The drama about a man trying to discover the identity of his late wife’s lover through the conversations he had secretly taped was pitched at Crossroads in Thessaloniki, the Sofia Meetings and the Jerusalem International Film Lab.

“It may be a smaller film than other projects being produced by the Iris Group, but I was so impressed by the screenplay when I was in Sofia last year and was soon able to convince Nicolas Steil,” Eicher said.

Steil added: “I really think that this film has the potential to find an audience like Asghar Farhadi’s [Golden Bear winner] A Separation which was seen by a million people in France.”

French distribution for the €1.2m film is already in place with Rezo Films.

Distribution plans

Furthermore, Steil revealed that “the Iris Group is exploring the possibility of establishing a presence in the German theatrical distribution market”.

“Rezo Films in France is already active in distribution and this would lead to a distribution network in key European territories,” he said.