Bernardo Bertolucci, the ‘most shameful sex scene in film’ and how actress was haunted by ‘butter rape’

Bernardo Bertolucci ‘s successful career did not come without controversy.

The director, who has died at age 77 following a short battle with cancer, sparked huge controversy with a rape scene in his 1973 movie Last Tango in Paris.

He once admitted that actress Maria Schneider, who died in 2011, hated him so much because of what happened to her in the scene that she never spoke to him again once filming had wrapped.

Bertolucci even confessed that he’d conspired with actor Marlon Brando to use a stick of butter as lubricant to simulate sex without her consent.

Addressing the non-consensual scene in an interview in 2013, the director said he and Brando agreed not to tell Schneider what was going to happen because he wanted her reaction "as a girl, not as an actress".

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Bernardo Bertolucci, the 'most shameful sex scene in film' and how actress was haunted by 'butter rape'

Bertolucci spoke about the scene in 2013
(Image: Reuters)

Bernardo Bertolucci, the 'most shameful sex scene in film' and how actress was haunted by 'butter rape'

He conspired with Marlon Brando to not tell Maria Schneider about the butter
(Image: Internet Unknown)

The scene was filmed when Brando was 48 and Schneider was 19.

Bertolucci said: "We were having, with Marlon, breakfast on the floor of the flat where I was shooting.

"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 felt guilty about not telling the actress what was going to happen with the butter, but insisted he didn’t regret his decision to shoot the controversial scene.

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

Bernardo Bertolucci, the 'most shameful sex scene in film' and how actress was haunted by 'butter rape'

He said he wanted a real reaction rather than an acted one
(Image: Getty Images Europe)

Bernardo Bertolucci, the 'most shameful sex scene in film' and how actress was haunted by 'butter rape'

The scene caused a lot of controversy
(Image: Pea/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)

Schneider once said that the scene left her feeling "humiliated" and "a little raped".

She told the Daily Mail : "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."

However, after the interview resurfaced in 2016, Bertolucci said the controversy surrounding the scene was a "ridiculous misunderstanding".

The director felt people thought Schneider was completely unaware of the rape seen, but he insisted that the only thing she didn’t know about was that Brando would be using a stick of butter as lubricant.

He said: "I would like, for the last time, to clear up a ridiculous misunderstanding that continues to generate press reports about Last Tango in Paris around the world.

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Bernardo Bertolucci, the 'most shameful sex scene in film' and how actress was haunted by 'butter rape'

The actress didn’t speak to Bertolucci after filming ended
(Image: mirror.co.uk)

Bernardo Bertolucci, the 'most shameful sex scene in film' and how actress was haunted by 'butter rape'

Marlon and Maria in Last Tango in Paris
(Image: Moviestore Collection/REX (1574735a))

"Several years ago at the Cinemathèque Francaise someone asked me for details on the famous butter scene. 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: "Maria knew everything because she had read the script, where it was all described. The only novelty was the idea of the butter. And that, as I learned many years later, offended Maria. Not the violence that she is subjected to in the scene, which was written in the screenplay."

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