RIP Maria Schneider: A ‘Little Raped’ By Marlon Brando’s Butter Balls
RIP Maria Schneider, the actor best known for her performance in Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1972 drama Last Tango in Paris. The role defined her career. She was 19 when she starred in it. (Not every actor is lucky enough to have a footnote, let alone a definition.)
Anyone who’s ever seen the film will be familiar with the butter scene. It was unrehearsed and not in the script. Said Maria Schneider:
“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.”
In 2007, she reviewed:
“He [Bertolucci] was fat and sweaty and very manipulative, both of Marlon and myself, and would do certain things to get a reaction from me. Some mornings on set he would be very nice and say hello and on other days, he wouldn’t say anything at all.
“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 recognised as an actress and the whole scandal and aftermath of the film turned me a little crazy and I had a breakdown.
“Now, though, I can look at the film and like my work in it.”