Maria Schneider, The French actress who played Marlon Brando’s lover in the controversial 1972 film, Last Tango in Paris, has died aged 58 “following a long illness”.
Schneider was only 19 when she starred opposite then 48-year-old Marlon Brando in Bernardo Bertolucci’s film which was banned in several countries due to its sexually explicit content.
Generating the biggest scandal was an anal rape scene featuring the use of butter as a lubricant. Speaking about the scene, which Schneider first learned of just moments before filming it, she said: “I should have called my agent or had my lawyer come to the set because you can’t force someone to do something that isn’t in the script, but at the time, I didn’t know that. Marlon said to me: ‘Maria, don’t worry, it’s just a movie,’ but during the scene, even though what Marlon was doing wasn’t real, I was crying real tears. I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or apologise. Thankfully, there was just one take.”
Despite last Tango catapulting her to global flame, Schneider said it was the biggest regret of her life. In a 2007 interview with Daily Mail she said Bertolucci was “over-rated” and that he was “fat and sweaty and very manipulative.”
“I was too young to know better. Marlon later said that he felt manipulated, and he was Marlon Brando, so you can imagine how I felt. People thought I was like the girl in the movie, but that wasn’t me.
“I felt very sad because I was treated like a sex symbol — I wanted to be recognized as an actress and the whole scandal and aftermath of the film tuned me a little crazy and I had a breakdown.”
Due to the controversy the film provoked, Schneider insisted she would never do any nude scenes again, although just three years later she was filmed naked again in The Passenger, starring Jack Nicholson.
Following the movie, Schneider embarked on a bath of self destruction, attempting suicide and battling drug addiction. She admitted in interviews that she used heroin, cocaine, marijuana and LSD. “I was very lucky — I lost many friends to drugs — but I met someone in 1980 who helped me stop. I call this person my angel and we’ve been together ever since. I don’t say if it’s a man or a woman. That’s my secret garden. I like to keep it a mystery,” the openly bisexual actress said.
Schneider struggled to shake off her image as a sex symbol and she went on to star in several unmemorable low-budget films like “Memoirs of a French Whore” and “Mama Dracula”. The last movie she appeared in was the Key, directed by Guillaume Nicloux.
Other greats who have recently passed away include producer Bernd Eichinger, actress Susannah York, fitness guru Jack Lalanne and music legend Captain Beefheart.
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