Colin Farrell has said he wanted to star in new film A New York Winter's Tale because he had never played the lead in a love story before.

Speaking at the film's premiere in London on Thursday night, Farrell said: "I just loved the script - it was so unabashedly romantic and sentimental and I hadn't read anything ever that wore its heart on its sleeve with such pride as this film did."

He continued: "I just loved this film, the characters and the time period it was set in."

The directing debut of Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, A New York Winter's Tale is based on the Mark Helprin novel Winter's Tale and is set in a mythic New York City, where a thief (Farrell) falls in love with a dying woman (Downton Abbey's Jessica Brown Findlay).

Paying tribute to his co-star, Farrell said:  "Jessica Brown Findlay made the experience for me, it was a dream working with her.

"A film like this that's a love story, your ability to flesh the story out in any kind of beautiful way is contingent on having a dance partner that you trust and appreciate. She was amazing."

A New York Winter's Tale is released in cinemas next Friday, February 21.