12 Years A Slave star Lupita Nyong'o learned the art of silence on movie sets from Ralph Fiennes when she was working as a production assistant on The English Patient.

The Yale School of Drama graduate began her movie career behind the camera when she was hired to look after the talent on the 1996 film - and she quickly realised that great actors don't like to be bothered when they're preparing for dramatic scenes.

She tells The Hollywood Reporter, "That was the first film that I worked on, and I would escort Ralph from his tent because, in Kenya, we don't have trailers.

"He was always in some sort of funk, in a zone, and I would be like, 'So, what was your favourite movie to work on?' You know, just trying small talk because the silence was uncomfortable for me.

"He would be trying to be polite, but he really didn't want to speak to me. And now I understand! That's such a precious moment, when an actor is approaching the set."