Michael Fassbender has said he was so overcome while filming a violent scene in 12 Years a Slave that he passed out.

The German-Irish actor is tipped for an Oscar for his portrayal of sadistic plantation owner Edwin Epps in the forthcoming film by director Steve McQueen.

Fassbender (36) said that a scene where he had to attack a young slave girl proved too much for him and he "keeled over" in front of the film crew.

“That was a kind of strange one,” he told Express.co.uk. “I just blacked out and came to sort of in the middle of the scene. That has never happened to me.”

In the movie, which has seen film-goers leaving cinemas in tears at the brutal depiction of slavery, Epps delights in abusing slave girl Patsey, who is played by 30-year-old Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o.

“You are doing things that are quite challenging. I guess mentally and physically,” Fassbender said. "The good thing is it’s over in a short period of time, so it’s a very intense focus for a concentrated amount of time.

“So you think to yourself, ‘I just have to be crazy for another couple of weeks’.”

The film, which also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt, is released on January 28.