Chiwetel Ejiofor struggles to understand fame.

The 37-year-old actor, who's best known for his starring role in the Steve McQueen-directed '12 Years a Slave', says he's conscious that his profile has risen markedly since appearing in the acclaimed film, but still struggles to put his new-found status in context.

He explained: ''I don't know what all of these things mean yet. In terms of stratification, fame, renown, all these things, it's like an ongoing process of trying to work out what it means.

''Obviously, I'm aware that people react slightly differently to me. It's not like people were rude before, and suddenly they're polite. But yeah, you notice a slight shift, that people are slightly more aware of you - in the street, or whatever.''

However, the London-born star insists he remains uncomfortable with ''this abstract idea of a weird power that has to do with being not anonymous ... I put my pants on one leg at a time, just like I did before I was nominated for an Oscar''.

Meanwhile, Chiwetel also revealed he doesn't spend any of his free time worrying about equality issues in Hollywood.

He told the Guardian newspaper: ''I don't spend that much time thinking about race in the context of the industry.

''I just don't. I can't speak on those things, because I haven't thought about it that much.''