Comments by the director of the film Last Tango in Paris, Bernardo Bertolucci, that he conspired with Marlon Brando to film a graphic rape scene without the consent of 19-year-old actor Maria Schneider have prompted outrage in Hollywood.
Speaking in a video from 2013 that surfaced recently, Bertolucci said he and Brando came up with the idea to shoot the infamous scene depicting assault, in which Brando’s character uses a stick of butter to anally rape his lover, played by Schneider.
“The sequence of the butter is an idea that I had with Marlon in the morning before shooting,” Bertulocci said at an event held at La Cinémathèque Française in Paris in 2013. He said he “wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress”.
“I think she hated me and also Marlon because we didn’t tell her that there was that detail of the butter used as lubricant,” he said.
Although he admitted that not telling her the plan was “horrible”, Bertolucci said he didn’t regret how he decided to direct the scene.
Last Tango in Paris – which was made in 1972 and tells the story of a man who enters into an anonymous affair after his wife takes her own life – shocked audiences when it was released due to its graphic depictions of sex and rape and is still considered to be controversial. At the time of filming Brando was 48, while Schneider was 19.
Schneider, who went on to have serious drug addiction problems and depression, said in 2007 that she felt humiliated and “a little raped”. During the interview Schneider confirmed the scene was simulated and there was no real sex.
She said she was told about the contents of the scene shortly before the shoot and that it wasn’t in the original script.
“I was so angry, 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,” she told the Daily Mail.
“Marlon said to me: ‘Maria, don’t worry, it’s just a movie’.”
“After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or apologise. Thankfully, there was just one take,” she said. Schneider died from cancer in 2011.
Bertolucci’s comments prompted outrage on social media, with celebrities among those calling for the director to be stripped of his awards or to be prosecuted.
Jessica Chastain said the comments made her feel sick.
Evan Rachel Wood retweeted Chastain’s comments, adding, “I second that. This is heartbreaking and outrageous. The 2 of them are very sick individuals to think that was ok.”
Chris Evans wrote: “Wow. I will never look at this film, Bertolucci or Brando the same way again. This is beyond disgusting. I feel rage,” which prompted a response from Anna Kendrick.
“Ms Schneider stated this several years ago. I used to get eye-rolls when I brought it up to people (aka dudes),” Kendrick tweeted. Evans replied that the men should be in jail.