Akiva Goldsman writing and directing drama

After a thorough search of up-and-coming leading men, writer-director Akiva Goldsman has offered the lead role in his passion project “Winter’s Tale” to Colin Farrell, who would join Jessica Brown Findlay (“Downton Abbey”) should he accept the coveted part in the Warner Bros. project.

WB has been high on Farrell ever since his comedic turn in last year’s hit “Horrible Bosses.” Studio offered him one of the title roles in its upcoming medieval movie “Arthur and Lancelot,” though a deal ultimately didn’t make.

Farrell hasn’t yet begun negotiations, which could still prevent him from taking the role, as sources tell Variety that the actor is seeking a payday with his starring turn in Sony’s summer tentpole “Total Recall” already generating heat.

If Farrell doesn’t take the offer, Goldsman has been considering Luke Evans, Garrett Hedlund, Liam Hemsworth, Aaron Johnson and rising star Benjamin Walker to play the protag, a young thief on the run who breaks into a wealthy man’s home and ends up falling for his terminally-ill daughter.

Goldsman’s past collaborators Russell Crowe and Will Smith are expected to take on supporting roles along with a flying horse that factors into the plot.

Goldsman is set to make his directorial debut with “Winter’s Tale,” a supernatural drama based on Mark Helprin’s 1983 novel of the same name. He’s spent years trying to make the $75 million period pic at Warners, and he’ll produce through his Weed Road banner along with Marc Platt. Shooting will begin October 15 in New York.

CAA-repped Farrell recently wrapped Martin McDonagh’s “Seven Psychopaths” and is currently filming Niels Arden Oplev’s “Dead Man Down.”

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