Born to Austrian actors Hans Brenner and Monika Bleibtreu, Moritz Bleibtreu started acting at the age of six. He traveled the U.S. and Paris as a teenager before becoming a prominent German actor in television and film. After a few roles in productions with his mother, he appeared in the drama Einfach nur Liebe (Simply Love) and the comedy Stadtgespräch (Talk of the Town). In 1997, he earned his first major acclaim as the comedic gangster Abdul in Knockin' On Heaven's Door. The next year he made his international breakthrough as Franka Potente's slightly dim boyfriend Manni in Run Lola Run. With his sweetly sensitive looks, Bleibtreau continued playing mostly nice guys in German comedies and dramas: the idiot brother in Luna Papa, a hustling DJ in Fandango, and a schoolteacher in Im Juli. He appeared in four films in 2001, including his first American production, The Invisible Circus, and the goofy comedy Lammbock. He took on some challenging parts that year as well, appearing with Harvey Keitel and Stellan Skarsgård for Taking Sides and as the lead prisoner in Das Experiment. Continuing with leading man status, Bleibtreau next portrayed an Italian immigrant in Solino and Kaiser Titus in Germanikus.