Chiwetel Ejiofor was hesitant to take the role of Solomon Northup in 12 Years A Slave after worrying he would be unable to honour his real-life counterpart's legacy.

The Salt actor stars in the true story of a free black man from upstate New York who is abducted and sold into slavery, but Ejiofor was afraid he wouldn't be able to do Northup justice due to the historical significance of the story.

He tells U.S. show The View, "(Director) Steve MCQueen called me and spoke to me about it and he sent me the script and I had that moment of pause. It's such an extraordinary story, I just felt the responsibility of it...

"I had never seen a story like this, I had never seen a film sort of inside this experience this way, so it wasn't something I could just jump into straight away. I had to take that moment of kind of saying, 'I don't know Steve, am I the guy?'"

Ejiofor ultimately decided he wanted to further explore the character and his background.

He continues,"I think I felt like I wanted to connect to Solomon Northup and when I reread the book... it wasn't a story I could let go.

"It was just so amazing, this is an incredible, incredible man who experienced something really extraordinary."

The movie, which is already creating Oscar buzz, may deal with heavy issues such as slavery and violence towards captives, but Ejiofor has since taken pride in the role that he almost turned down.

He says to U.S. breakfast show Today, "It was kind of a privilege (to play the part). I really wanted to tell this story and I wanted to be inside of the experience and to tell the story of Solomon's life.

"Even those moments that are hard or complex, I just felt connected to what he went through."