Steven Spielberg ordered the iconic child star of Schindler's List not to watch the Oscar-winning movie until she reached the age of 18, and she was left traumatised after breaking her promise to the director.

Polish actress Oliwia Dabrowska played the little girl in the red coat, whose death prompts German businessman Oskar Schindler to save the lives of more than a thousand Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust.

Dabrowska, who was just three years old when she provided the only splash of colour in the black and white film, reveals she broke a promise to Spielberg by watching the movie when she was 11 and regrets not obeying the director's advice.

She tells British newspaper The Times, "(Watching the movie at 11) was too horrible. I could not understand it much, but I was sure I didn't want to watch (it) ever again in my life."

Dabrowska, now 23, kept her movie role secret from her friends as she was growing up and it took years for her to appreciate what she had been a part of.

She adds, "I was ashamed of being in the movie and really angry with my mother and father when they told anyone about my part. I kept it a secret for a long, long time, though at high school people got to know me through the Internet. People said: 'It must be so important to you, you must know so much about the Holocaust.' I was frustrated by it all... Then, I realised I had been part of something I could be proud of. Spielberg was right: I had to grow up into the film."