JONNY Lee Miller is to star in a £3.2million film which charts the triumph and despair of the Scottish cyclist, Graeme Obree.
The Flying Scotsman, which starts filming in Ayrshire next month, follows Obree’s unlikely rise to the top of his sport - after he assembled a bike from washing machine parts - and his fall into depression, which led to his attempted suicide last winter.
A deal with Miller was recently concluded, and the actor spent Thursday in his first training session for the film at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester.
Miller, 29, starred in Trainspotting and Complicity, and recently revealed he hoped to play Obree. Obree himself is said to be delighted the film is coming to fruition.
Douglas MacKinnon will direct. He is best known for his television work, including last year’s Nice Guy Eddie (starring Ricky Tomlinson).
Obree, 37, came to prominence in 1993 when he won the 4,000m pursuit at the world track championships in Norway on "Old Faithful", the bike he had constructed himself. The same year, he broke the one-hour world record by covering 32.95 miles.
In 1995 he won the World Cup event in Athens followed by the World Championship.
However, Obree was diagnosed with manic depression following years of violent mood swings.
After finishing disappointingly at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics he was apparently talked down from a window ledge by a team-mate.
He took an overdose in 1998, and last December was found hanging in a barn near his home in Irvine.
Peter Broughan of Bronco Films will produce the feature - he also produced the 1995 adventure Rob Roy. Broughan said he had long hoped to make a film about Obree’s life - which he called "another wonderful Scottish hero story". He discovered five years ago that the writer Simon Rose had been working on a script, which has since been developed with Declan Hughes and John Brown.
"Graeme’s been there all the way through," added Broughan. "We’ve depended on him heavily for background information on his own story."
The Flying Scotsman should premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in spring 2003.