'Last Emperor' Producer on Bernardo Bertolucci: He Drank From "the Milk of Hollywood"

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Bertolucci (left) and Thomas discussed a scene while making 1993’s 'Little Buddha.'

Says Jeremy Thomas of the director, who died Nov. 26: "He was the last of the living-legend Italian filmmakers. He leaves a very big footprint."

He was my best friend.

It started with The Last Emperor in 1984, and the last film we made together was The Dreamers in 2003. But we continued to be very close. I was there with him [in Rome] at the end. I left Sunday night, and he died Monday morning. But I got to say goodbye.

We enjoyed making films together enormously. It was very Italian, something between an opera and a fiesta. He was the last of the living-legend Italian filmmakers.

He leaves a very big footprint. But he had a great personality, and the personality of the director infects the film.

Bernardo himself said it best in his acceptance speech at the Oscars: "If New York is the Big Apple, Hollywood is the Big Nipple." I remember being backstage, and the press was incredulous. What did he mean by big nipple? He said, "Tonight, I drank heavily from the milk of Hollywood. Get it?"

That was the way he was.

This story also appears in the Nov. 28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.