In 2013 Interview, Bernardo Bertolucci Denies Forced Sex Took Place In 'Last Tango' Rape Scene

The two-time Oscar winner addressed reports about the 1972 film's most controversial scene in a 2013 interview with THR: "Was she sodomized? It's ridiculous. It's like thinking that in an action movie somebody that's shot dies for real."
Bernardo Bertolucci

What exactly happened during the filming of the controversial sodomy scene in 1972's Last Tango in Paris?

The scene long has been the subject of speculation, which was re-ignited last weekend as a resurfaced 2013 interview with director Bernardo Bertolucci made global headlines, with outlets around the world claiming that the two-time Oscar-winning director had confessed to the "non-consensual" rape of Maria Schneider on the set.

But in another 2013 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Bertolucci denied that any actual sex took place between Marlon Brando and the young actress on the set. "It was acting, it wasn't real," he said. "Was she sodomized? It's ridiculous. It's like thinking that in an action movie somebody that's shot dies for real. It's very naive."

The Italian filmmaker, who now is 76, was visiting Los Angeles to introduce a screening at AFI Fest when he spoke with THR about the making of Last Tango.

"We had to shoot kind of a rape scene, so we decided to go with sodomy and butter, but I decided not to tell Maria because I was interested in her reaction," Bertolucci said in the Nov. 11, 2013, interview. (In video of the interview below, the topic of the scene arises at the 21:25 mark.)

"And, in fact, she was very humiliated, and she was right — not because we used the most common thing in the kitchen, but because I didn't tell her. It was like as if I was telling her, 'I prefer to have your reaction as a girl than as an actress.' And she never forgave me for that. And also [Marlon] Brando she was upset with."

The director released a statement Monday in which 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. Several years ago at the Cinematheque Francaise someone asked me for details on the famous butter scene.

"I specified, but perhaps I was sot 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 [butter] use. That is where the misunderstanding lies.

"Somebody thought, and thinks that Maria had not been informed about the violence on her. That is false! 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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