‘Last Tango in Paris’ Rape Scene Was Not Consensual, Director Bernardo Bertolucci Admits

'Last Tango in Paris' Rape Scene

Last Tango in Paris” director Bernardo Bertolucci confessed that he and Marlon Brando conspired against actress Maria Schneider during a rape scene in which the actor used a stick of butter as lubricant to simulate sex. The director addressed the non-consensual rape scene in a recently resurfaced interview from 2013.

According to Bertolucci, he and Brando agreed not to tell Schneider what would happen to her because he wanted her reaction “as a girl, not as an actress.” He said that he and Schneider, who died in 2011, never saw one another after the film because she hated him.

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In the interview, Bertolucci recounts the origin of the rape scene between Brando, who was 48 at the time, and Schneider, who was 19.

“We were having, with Marlon [Brando], breakfast on the floor of the flat where I was shooting,” 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 added, “I had been, in a way, horrible to Maria because I didn’t tell her what was going on.”

The director confessed that he feels guilty for not telling her about the butter, but he does not regret his decision to shoot the scene.

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“I didn’t want Maria to act her humiliation, her rage,” he said. “I wanted Maria to feel, not to act, the rage and humiliation. Then she hated me for her whole life.”

Before her death, Schneider had spoken out about the scene, including in an interview with the Daily Mail in which she 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 apologize. Thankfully, there was just one take.”

Watch the 2013 interview clip below:

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  1. Teila Younce says:

    It is absolutely disgusting you have the scene posted. What an awful excuse for a publication.

  2. PLeahy says:

    Shocking what some, even the most well regarded in the business, will do in the name of ‘art,’ or at the time would it have been in the name of ‘fame and money?’

  3. buckwheaton says:

    And in another context, these people presume to be our Moral Betters. In some ways, that is how we got Trump.

  4. Sumangala says:

    WHY are they laughing???

  5. Calisse Tabarnac says:

    Is anyone really surprised?

    Remember that this is a community that kneels at the feet of Roman Polanski, who –for those that may have forgotten — drugged and an ally raped a 12-year old girl.

  6. Lisa says:

    Firstly, why are you showing us a shot of Ms Schneider getting raped?!!! Secondly, what’s with all these rapists walking around saying ”Yeah, I raped her. So what? I was young.”
    I’m getting really sick of this. It’s almost 2017 – why are we tolerating this?

  7. Are any of the detractors of this video remembering Maria Schneider was 19? 19. I also read and watched interviews with her over the years that made me very uncomfortable. The fact that two men decades older than her basically ran roughshod over her during the filming because she was young and malleable. Brando in particular was difficult for her to deal with. This scene could have been carefully choreographed. I dare say that even in acting something like this, the act of being held down against one’s will, in character, would still have triggered something painful and desperate. Instead, these two older men CHOSE to put her through something that proved hellish and affected her psyche the rest of her life. Damn them both.

  8. William Muller says:

    Why the outrage now? This was a known fact way back then during the Daily Mirror interview.

    • Sav says:

      I can’t imagine people cared as much about a woman being raped back then. Especially if it was during a rape scene and people were even more likely to brush it off as part of a movie. Even Bertolucci doesn’t even seem to understand that he’s confessing to sexual assault.

  9. A says:

    This headline and article are exceptionally misleading.
    This was a simulated scene of sex that was improvised, perhaps unwisely and insensitively, without the input of the actress involved. That’s a world away from rape/sexual assault. Disappointing to see Variety jumping on board the “click-bait” bandwagon instead of bothering to read the interviews with the actual subjects.

    • When it is non consensual, it is not a world away from sexual assault. period.

      • John Sanders says:

        This is what Maria Schneider said in the Daily Mail interview, “They only told me about it before we had to film the scene, and I was so angry,” Schneider 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.”
        If she knew what was going to happen and yet decided to shoot the scene, isn’t it consensual?

      • Sav says:

        “Inconsiderate”? Really? That’s what you’d call it if a couple of people colluded to shove a stick of butter inside you without your knowledge or consent? This pervasive belief that because she was doing an explicit scene means the actors/directors can do whatever they want to her is frightening. And has no doubt led to many, many other sexual assaults like this in filmmaking.

      • A says:

        You must not know how acting works. The term “non-consensual” is confusing here, because it doesn’t really apply to the making of a film with a script and a story that is being utilized by the actors, filmmakers, and crew. As others mentioned, the rape scene was a part of the story known to all, but Brando and the director improvised a couple of the details of it, which yes was very inconsiderate to Marie Schneider.

        Blurring the lines between performing in a narrative film and actual assault does a grave disservice to victims of actual assault.

  10. PANKAJ BUTALIA says:

    Shit I liked this bastard till now. Poor Maria.

  11. Christopher says:

    I think it is revealing that some people have responded to the article with the ‘Was it actually real rape [read ‘penetration’]?’ question, not really noticing (choosing to ignore?) that Maria Schneider was traumatised by the so-called improvised aspects of the scene that she was forced into, and ignoring the rather significant detail that Bertolucci stated explicitly that he wanted her to feel real humiliation. That kind of focus, I would suggest, leans towards the very same mentality of the director and actor in conjuring up this revolting and criminal improv. At the very least it shows a complete ignorance of the dynamics of sexual violence. May I suggest if you haven’t made yourself aware of those dynamics, that you do so in order to avoid causing unecessary offence to survivors of sexual violence and showing yourself to be a complete tosser.

    • lina@yahoo.com says:

      Would you want someone to stick something in you without your consent, or your wife, sister, mother, kids? This was a sexual assault.

  12. Jenson says:

    Yet, as the coward Patton Oswald and others in Hollywood have stated, “Everybody knew what Bill Cosby was doing” (and said and did nothing) and Hollywood wholeheartedly embraced a presidential candidate whose husband was accused of 13 rapes— yes, 13 rapes… and are right now, covering up rapes and acts and the works of actives pedos… but NOW the outrage over a movie scene.

  13. valiant says:

    What an overbearing colossal schmuck Brando turned out to be.
    What happened to make that great talent explode into nothingness?

  14. Bannon says:

    Did he grab her by the Pu**y?

  15. simulated non-consensual rape.

  16. Dear Variety,

    In the video that you include in this article the director states that it was in the script that “he had to rape her in a way”, yet the article implies that the rape scene was shot without the actress knowing it would happen. This doesn’t seem to be true. The director also says that the only thing she didn’t know was that “butter” would play a role in the scene.

    The title or the article, which uses the term “consensual”, is unfortunate and is contributing for many exaggerated reactions, including from some readers that seem to think there was real sex, that is, actual rape.

    On the Daily Mail interview that the article quotes, Schneider seems to contradict that the scene was in the script (saying it was not on the “original script”), but she says she was told about it before shooting.

    I think this article should be carefully reviewed based on the facts.

    Best regards,

    • Sav says:

      There’s nothing confusing about this article. There was clearly a rape scene in the movie that Schneider knew about. However, the director is clearly explaining that violating Schneider with butter was something he and Brando cooked up without telling her or getting her consent. Therefore turning the fictional rape scene into an actual rape. Why is this so hard for people to comprehend?

    • No says:

      So the only way to really be to “actual raped” is with a penis?! Try having someone jam a stick of butter in your bum without permission and then tell me how you feel.

      • There’s no suggestion anywhere that there was anything inserted on Ms. Schneider or even if she was touched in a way she wasn’t expecting to be. My main problem is that the phrasing of the title and the article is having people reacting as there was an actual rape, which is not true.

        It is clear from the Daily Mail interview that she knew what she was going to shoot. She says she was mad because she was told how the scene would be just before the shooting begun and that she felt later that contractually maybe she could have refused to shot the scene in a way it was not scripted, but the issue seems to arise strictly from the fact that butter was being used as a lubricant. Bertolucci: “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.”

        Ms. Schneider didn’t suggest that anything happened that she didn’t know would happen when she was told how the scene would be. She felt mad before the scene was shot: “They only told me about it before we had to film the scene and I was so angry.” and “[…] even though what Marlon was doing wasn’t real, I was crying real tears. ”

        She never says anything that would suggest she was penetrated or anything similar, like being touched on a “real” sexual way (again, the quote from the previous paragraph, “what Marlon was doing wasn’t real.”) She does say clearly that the sex scenes on the film were not real. Please read the Daily Mail interview from 2007, there’s a link on the last paragraph of the article.

      • Bob Smoot says:

        The problem, which Luis pointed out quite well, is that the article is vague on details. The script called for Maria to be raped, that much is clear. She wasn’t told about the butter, that is also clear.

        What matters to me is what’s entirely unclear: What *exactly* happened that wasn’t supposed to happen?

        Many people are reading the press and assuming that the whole rape scene was real (and obviously not consensual). And the “jam a stick of butter in your bum” is an even weirder take. That’s a problem. Based on what I’ve read from interviews with Maria, it sounds like sexual assault, which I take to mean that it wasn’t about the butter and it wasn’t about the simulated intercourse; it was the contact he made with his hand.

        It’s utterly disgusting and dehumanizing and tragic, and it’s deeply disturbing that the director doesn’t feel crushing sorrow for the crime he orchestrated and the affect it would have on Maria for the rest of her life. But conflation and hyperbole and assumption on our part isn’t helpful for anyone. And neither are articles that don’t bother to dig deeper.

  17. It is disturbing how many comments are referring to this improvisational simulated rape scene as rape! It is horribly insulting to women who actually have been actually raped or sexually abused. They were acting, no rape actually took place. She could of stopped “acting” at any time. Now don’t get me wrong, not filling her in on the details of the scene just to get a certain reaction, to me, sounds unprofessional but this was not rape and should not be referred to as such.

    • No says:

      As a rape victim, you could not be more incorrect. Rape is about power as much as forced sex. I’m sorry if you don’t think a stick of butter qualifies. She was definitely raped. And even more so because every time it was on film, she had to relive it.

      • Fred says:

        Maria Schneider DID NOT GET RAPED !
        It is complete make believe. It is acting.
        Please learn the difference between fantasy and reality.

  18. Disgusted says:

    Wait, so V is reporting this as a “rape,’ the participants have basically confirmed it, yet you post a photo and a video INCLUDING the RAPE itself? That’s just f-ing ghoulish. Congrats on lowering yourself fully into the mud.

    • LOL says:

      You understand movies are pretend, right?

      • Sav says:

        Are you really so stupid as to believe that actual rape can’t happen during a rape scene? Even when the director is outright admitting that he raped her? For a predator in the position of a director and actor, it’s actually a prime opportunity to rape someone because they can fall back on the “it’s just pretend!” excuse, just Bertolucci did by telling her “it’s just a movie” and just like you’re doing by implying that somehow the fact that they were on a set erases the possibility of rape occurring.

      • LOL says:

        My reading comprehension is just fine. But you still seem to be lacking an understanding between the terms “rape” and “rape scene.” One is real, one is pretend. I get the impression that you actually wish she was really raped so you would have something to complain about.

      • Sav says:

        When was the last time you took a reading comprehension test? Bertolucci is saying that he and Brando sprung the scene on Schneider (the ACTRESS, not the character) without preparing her or getting her consent. They raped her.

  19. littlefix says:

    The scene is not real as Schneider said in an interview. She hated the scene and hated the director until she died. And hated Brando for that particular scene too. But Schneider and Brando remained friends until the end and she considered her encounter with Brando as the best experience about making the film. The director should’ve been liable for that scene in some way.

    • LOL says:

      “Are you really so stupid as to believe that actual rape can’t happen during a rape scene?”
      Great, now we’re down to childish insults from you. Nobody is denying that it’s impossible for a rape to occur on a film set so stop with your ridiculous straw mans. No rape happened here, sorry to have to break that news to you. This was a “rape scene,” a fictional character was getting raped in a fictional film. The actors themselves were not raped.

      Let me try to dumb it down for you even more since you can’t seem to comprehend this. It’s like how in movies, you’ll have a character fire a gun at another character and the bullet will hit and kill him. Now, the actors themselves were not really shot and killed. They were just filmed pretending like they were in order to portray a fictional story on film. The actors are alive and well, seriously. Movies don’t really kill the actors you see dying on screen. Movies don’t really rape the actors you see getting raped on screen. You have to understand that movies aren’t real, they’re pretend. Until you grasp that there’s nothing more to discuss.

      • Sav says:

        You understand that being an actress in an explicit scene does NOT mean the actors and directors have blanket consent to do whatever they want to the actress, right? I mean, serious question: do you understand that?

  20. tom says:

    If anyone is in the neighborhood of their gravesites, please spit on their graves, maybe defecate too.

  21. Contessa46 says:

    I remember seeing the films all those years ago. I also vividly remember the scene that was so appalling & upsetting. I did wonder why she would consent to such brutality. Sad to learn she was t in on the plan. She was really sucker punched.

  22. Rachel says:

    Is the header image a still from the movie? If so, can’t it be changed to something else? I’m sure I’m not the only woman who is horrified and disgusted, and who does not want to continue spreading the image of a woman’s face, in anguish, as she is being violated.

  23. tony free says:

    he should be arrested, and put in jail.

    • Michael Anthony says:

      A bit Kate for that. Statute of limitations.

      The 2nd consideration us whether she knew they were filming a sexual scene and if they were supposed to “ad lib” as they acted. If so, it would have been next to impossible to prosecute at the time. Anyone who has seen the film knows it is rated X and deserved the rating. How would you prove anything else? In addition, some films have little script and actors are told to improvise.

      I’m not standing up for the actions of the director and Brando. But, one has to look at with a critical eye. The time for charging rape would have been the day it was filmed.

      • littlefix says:

        The scene was not real as Maria said in an interview, emotionally it’s rape, but just wondering can you like sue them for that though? In the same interview, aside from that scene, Maria spoke nicely of Brando and she really hated the director.

      • mickeyaugrec says:

        +MichaelAnthony Not understanding. What’s the “critical eye” part? Non-consensual sexual penetration is a violent crime. How would that be ameliorated by a script direction to “ad-lib”? Sexual scenes are done all the time without penetration, and pornographic films are made all the time which include penetration. All of the actors participating should be apprised of what is happening, especially where director and Brando had already determined that the “ad-lib”.was to be a rape. It would be no different if Brando had done the same thing to Schneider after filming was wrapped. What if Bertolucci had wanted to film Schneider’s visceral, unrehearsed reaction to Brando slitting her throat?

  24. Kat says:

    “I wanted Maria to feel, not to act, the rage and humiliation. Then she hated me for her whole life.”

    So basically, Bertolucci wanted to rape his actress. He wanted her to feel truly violated rather than giving her dignity while filming a difficult scene. He wanted her to ACTUALLY feel raped. That’s literally what he’s saying here. He wanted her to feel raped so he could capture that on film. She SHOULD hate him and he deserves every ounce of it. He had a 48 year old man force himself on a 19 year old girl in a frightening and horrific way. DISGUSTING.

    “There was a baguette, there was butter and we looked at each other and, without saying anything, we knew what we wanted.”

    Yeah, I’m so glad two rapists minds could come together so casually over breakfast. This hack and his trashy films should disappear from the face of the earth. Marlon Brando can rot too.

  25. goatsandmonkeys says:

    like to see someone try that today.

  26. ravengirl57 says:

    What’s especially disturbing about this clip is the smile on the young man’s face behind this jerk and how the audience laughs.

  27. Carl White says:

    I am confused, so was this a real non-consensual rape or a simulated non-consensual rape?

    • N!loofar says:

      simulated non-consensual rape

      • Sav says:

        No. He is admitting that they didn’t tell the actress what they were doing, i.e. they actually raped Maria Schneider.

    • Ellie Molko says:

      I am also confused. I think he’s trying to say it was simulated non-consensual rape on camera…saying the other is saying they were both involved in actual rape. It doesn’t make sense he would admit to that in an interview so non-challantly. She could have obviously sent both of them to jail at the time if it was real, right? Either way you look at it it’s disgusting. She commited herself to a mental hospital afterwards.

    • David Connor says:

      Yeh. I’m also confused by this. So did Brando really have sex with this girl on camera…

      • Stephanie B says:

        I found this Daily Mail interview from 2007. Still humiliating but It looks like it was simulated… thank goodness!

        “That scene wasn’t in the original script. The truth is it was Marlon who came up with the idea,” she says.
        “They only told me about it before we had to film the scene and I was so angry.

        “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.

  28. Christopher says:

    By the way, it wasn’t just rape, it was anal rape. Funny how that isn’t mentioned.

    • TCTCTC says:

      Anal or whatnot, it was a simulated (pretend) rape scene. As the actress herself has said, there was no real sex in the film. Did you read the last line of this article? “even though what Marlon was doing wasn’t real, I was crying real tears”

    • mickeyaugrec says:

      How vile. I am sorry Schneider didn’t gouge Brando’s eyes out, or crush his _________. Bertolucci should be arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned for the rape. It’s reprehensible that he says after the rape Schneider “hated me for her whole life” – as if he expected a different reaction. Since it’s undoubtedly too late for criminal prosecution, maybe a phalanx of his fellow sexual predators should do the same to him. Keep the butter handy – of course! Separately, I agree with Rachel’s comment – I suggest that viewing of the scene [or the still] in light of the information revealed repeats the offense.

      • Francesca says:

        She said there wasn’t real sex, but she hadn’t be alerted that the scene would have been so violent. Brando and Bertolucci behaved in a horrible way with her.

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