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Colin Farrell gets romantic with Downton Abbey‘s Jessica Brown Findlay in Winter’s Tale. (Warner Bros)

Colin Farrell has well over thirty film credits to his name – and among them you would think there would be a couple where he stars in a substantial romantic role. But according to him you’d be wrong because he’s making history with the release on Friday of Winter’s Tale where he appears for the first time as the leading man in a romantic movie. He says: “I think this might be my coming out. This is popping my romantic cherry so to speak, and I loved it.”

In this fantastical picture he plays Peter Lake who inhabits a mythic New York in different time periods. He falls in love with the beautiful Beverly Penn played by British actress Jessica Brown Findlay of Downton Abbey fame. ake is hounded by a vicious and threatening gang leader portrayed by Russell Crowe but at its heart Winter’s Tale is more of a love story set in a world where miracles happen.

Farrell concedes that for cynical audiences this film may not have appeal. “I think it will be too sweet for some people for sure, and that’s fine. As long as it’s not too sweet for others. It was just really about the idea of love being transcendent and love transcending time.”

Early reviews have not been positive for a film that’s positioned to target a Valentine’s Day audience.

But for Farrell it was always a project that had clear appeal.

He says: “It was just incredibly sentimental and incredibly sweet without apology, and so that was something that in today’s day and age, you find less and less and less of, so it felt like a throwback. It felt like a very old-fashioned style of storytelling.”

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Farrell recently appeared in Saving Mr. Banks playing the troubled father of PL Travers – the novelist who wrote Mary Poppins. Many were impressed by his acting. The film got nominated for best original score – but Emma Thompson did not get a best actress nomination that many had been expecting.

Farrell is philosophical. He says:. “I mean I was surprised that Emma didn’t get a {nomination} but not really. There’s so much good work out there. Somebody always gets left out in the cold it seems in those things.”

But what does he make of the ongoing Academy Awards campaigning – can that determine who will be walking away with the trophies on Oscars night?

“I know of people that have campaigned heavily and not got nominations, and I know of people that have not campaigned at all and have gotten nominations, so at the end of the day I think the work speaks for itself more than any campaigning can speak for it,” he says.

Will this get you out to the cinema?

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By Tom Brook