Josh O'Connor was ''gripped'' by the script of 'God's Own Country'.

'The Durrells' actor is starring as Johnny in the debut feature by writer and director Francis Lee and O'Connor has admitted the filmmaker didn't have to pitch the film for him as he was ''gripped'' from page one.

Speaking to Time Out London magazine, O'Connor said: ''Francis didn't actually need to pitch the film as such. I was sent his script and was gripped from page one. After sending a tape of a couple of scenes I then met Francis and it was obvious that he was an extremely talented filmmaker as well as an extraordinary writer.

''We got on extremely well, too. I had no hesitations at all. It's not often that you get the chance to play a character so different to yourself.

''Johnny is someone I have so much sympathy for but not necessarily a whole lot in common with. That was a very exciting prospect for me.''

The film follows the story of Johnny, a gay farmer who falls in love with a migrant worker Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) and the actor has had a positive response from the LGBT+.

He said: ''The reaction so far has been unbelievable. From the first showing at Sundance in January, we've had audiences from all sorts of backgrounds and the response has been universally positive.

''So far the LGBT+ community has responded with love, which is great. We want people to continue to enjoy the hopefulness of Johnny's story.''

'God's Own Country', which is slated to be released in October this year, has been compared to the hit Ang Lee movie 'Brokeback Mountain' and the actor worked on a farm for two weeks and ''delivered sheep''.

He said: ''I worked on the farm for two weeks before we filmed. The locals seemed fairly excited by the prospect to be honest.

''I delivered sheep, fixed fences, moved cows around the place. It was hard work and gave me an insight into the world that Johnny inhabits. But I'd say my lambing skills are limited at best!''