Germany's leading film export Til Schweiger (Knockin' On Heaven's Door, Der Bewegte Mann) is to play the role of German boxing legend Max Schmeling in the $9m (DM 20m) Joe and Max which will begin shooting in Berlin under the direction of US filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams) from this May.

The story, about the rivalry and friendship between the heavyweight boxers Max Schmeling and Joe Louis during the 1930s and 40s is being produced by the German media fund IWP International West Pictures with US producer Brad Krevoy's Los Angeles-based MPCA (Screen Daily March 7, 2001). The role of Joe Louis has yet to be cast.

Last year, Schweiger appeared alongside Nick Nolte, Neve Campbell and Jeremy Davies in Alan Rudolph's Investigating Sex which was co-produced by Gemini Film, one of IWP's founders. He is also one of the leads in Gregor Schnitzler's Was Tun, Wenn's Brennt for Deutsche Columbia Pictures Filmproduktion.