“Last Tango in Paris” has always courted controversy and acclaim in roughly equal measure. That balance seems likely to tip with the revelation that an infamous rape scene involving Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider and a stick of butter was, in fact, non-consensual.
Bernardo Bertolucci has admitted as much in a newly surfaced interview from 2013 held at La Cinémathèque Française in Paris, saying that he “didn’t tell [Schneider] what was going on” because he wanted her to react “as a girl, not as an actress.” Watch the video below.
Schneider was 19 at the time, while Brando was 48. “I wanted her to react humiliated,” Bertolucci adds. “I think she hated me and also Marlon because we didn’t tell her.” That said, he doesn’t “regret” his actions — this, despite Schneider’s reaction to her experience. “To obtain something I think you have to be completely free,” continues the filmmaker. “I didn’t want Maria to act her humiliation her rage, I wanted her to Maria to feel…the rage and humiliation. Then she hated me for all of her life.”
“I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci,” Schneider said in a 2007 Daily Mail interview. The actress, who never shot another nude scene and was afflicted with depression and addiction issues throughout the rest of the 1970s, died of cancer in 2011.