Marlon Brando is often considered one of the greatest actors in Hollywood. He has been a part of some of the most legendary movies like The Godfather, Superman, and On the Waterfront. But it was Last Tango in Paris that acted as both a boon and a curse for the Vito Corleone fame. The 1972 movie was a huge box office success but was subjected to one of the most severe controversies.
Last Tango in Paris raised a massive buzz after its portrayal of s*xual violence and explicit content. Even after being a massive hit, many questions were raised about the movie. There was a particular butter scene in the film involving Marlon Brando with his 19-year-old co-star Maria Schneider that generated massive controversy after the actress stated that it was a living nightmare for her.
Did Marlon Brando make Maria Schneider uncomfortable?
It was not easy for the fans and close ones of Marlon Brando when an interview with Maria Schneider revealed a dark story behind the filming of Last Tango in Paris. It was stated by the actress that both Brando and the director Bernardo Bertolucci made her feel miserable while filming the widely controversial butter scene in the movie.
One of the most controversial scenes in the movie involves the Oscar-winning actor’s character Paul r*ping the character Jeanne, played by Schneider who was only 19 years old back then. While it was repeatedly claimed that the scene was simulated and she was briefed on everything beforehand, a massive outrage occurred after the actress spoke about the scene in 2006. Her statements hinted that it was not completely consensual.
“I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little r*ped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or apologize. Thankfully, there was just one take.”
But the legendary cinematographer Vittorio Storaro came to the defense of both the director and actor. He stated that most of the buzz was raised by the media and nothing as such occurred in the set. According to him, the only fault Bertolucci made was to not inform the actress about the butter and he also felt guilty for it.
“If I remember the interview correctly, probably Bernardo felt that maybe he didn’t explain it completely to Maria from the beginning and that’s why he felt a little guilty and nothing more than that. What Bernardo said later was he would like to apologize to Maria, only because he probably didn’t explain to her at the beginning what was discussed with Brando. Nothing happened during the shooting.”
Vittorio Storaro also added how Marlon Brando was prone to improvise the script every day. It must be noted that the Apocalypse Now cinematographer’s statements were quite contrary to what was said by the late Schneider. He added how the atmosphere while filming was fantastical and The Passenger actress even ended the filming with happy tears.
What did Bernardo Bertolucci say about the incident?
Several big names in the modern industry like Jessica Chastain, Chris Evans, and Evan Rachel Wood came forward to criticize Marlon Brando and Bernardo Bertolucci after the clip from the 1972 movie went viral in 2016. Many other fans and celebrities also joined the notion and both the actor and the director who received Oscar nominations for the movie were heavily criticized.
But Bertolucci stood strong on his point that the misunderstanding was due to the improvisation of the Butter scene. He admitted that it was done to take her spontaneous reaction and he was also guilty for it.
“I specified, but perhaps I was not clear, that I decided with Marlon Brando not to inform Maria that we would have used butter. We wanted her spontaneous reaction to that improper use [of the butter]. That is where the misunderstanding lies. Somebody thought, and thinks, that Maria had not been informed about the violence on her. That is false!”
He added that he felt sorry for not being clear about the scene to the late actress- “I had been, in a way, horrible to Maria because I didn’t tell her what was going on.”
Maria Schneider, before her unfortunate demise at the age of 58 also added that she didn’t receive fair pay for her work on the film. Last Tango in Paris was one of the highest-grossing movies of 1973 but still, the late actress received mercilessly less than both Brando and Bertolucci.
Last Tango in Paris can be streamed on Prime Video.