It’s one of the most controversial scenes in movie history, and now the Last Tango in Paris director Bernardo Bertolucci has revealed that the making of it was equally contentious.
The director has confessed that the scene looked so realistic because he and actor Marlon Brando came up with a plan without telling actress Maria Schneider to make sure that she looked outraged. The actor used a stick of butter as a lubricant to simulate sex during the scene.
He said that he and iconic actor Mr Brando had decided they would not tell Ms Schneider what would happen during the scene because he wanted her reaction to be the natural one of a girl, rather than an actress. However, the actions took their toll on the relationship between the director and Ms Schneider, who died five years ago. They never saw each other again because she disliked him so much.
At the time the scene was filmed, Mr Brando was 48, but Ms Schneider was only 19. Mr Bertolucci said that he and Mr Brando came up with the idea while having breakfast. He said: “There was a baguette, there was butter and we looked at each other and, without saying anything, we knew what we wanted.”
He admitted he had been “horrible” to the actress because he wanted her to feel rage and humiliation rather than simply act it. He also said that she hated him from that day.
Ms Schneider later said that she had felt humilated and had even felt as if she had been raped, both by her co-star and her director. She said she had cried real tears on the set that day. The film tells the story of an American who has recently been widowed and who begins a sexual relationship with a young French girl.