A controversial video surfaced online wherein Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci can be seen admitting that he and Marlon Brando conspired to shoot a rape scene in the film ‘Last Tango In Paris’ without the consent of the lead actress Maria Schneider.
The director made the confession about the film’s infamous “butter scene” during a Q&A at La Cinémathèque française in Paris in 2013. The revelation came two years after Schneider’s death.
In the controversial scene, the character Paul played by Marlon Brando, then 48-years-old can be seen violating Jeanne played by Maria Schneider, then 19-years-old with the aid of a stick of butter for lubricant. Bertolucci confesses that he feels guilty about how the scene was shot.
“The sequence of the butter is an idea that I had with Marlon in the morning before shooting,” said Bertolucci.
“But I’d been – in a way – horrible to Maria because I didn’t tell her what was going on. Because I wanted her reaction as a girl not as an actress. I wanted her to react humiliated. If it goes on she shot ‘no, no!’ I think she hated me and also Marlon because we didn’t tell her that there was this detail of the butter [being] used as lubricant.”
In 2007, while talking about that particular scene, Maria told the Daily Mail that she felt “raped” by Marlon Brando during that scene. “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,” the actress once said.
“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.”
The Oscar-winning director’s confession paints the scene in an even unpleasant manner. “I still feel very guilty for that. I feel guilty, but I don’t regret [shooting it like that].”
“To obtain something I think you have to be completely free. I didn’t want Maria to act her humiliation her rage, I wanted her to Maria to feel – not to act – the rage and humiliation. Then she hated me for all of her life.”
After the incident and the release of the film in 1972, Schneider decided to never shot nude scenes again. She also suffered issues like drug abuse, mental health problems, and a suicide attempt. The actress died in 2011 from cancer.