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Bernardo Bertolucci says 'Last Tango in Paris' outcry is misguided

"Last Tango in Paris" director Bernardo Bertolucci at the 11th annual Rome Film Festival in October. (Giorgio Onorati / EPA)
"Last Tango in Paris" director Bernardo Bertolucci at the 11th annual Rome Film Festival in October. (Giorgio Onorati / EPA)

The violent sex was scripted — but the butter wasn't.

So said "Last Tango in Paris" director Bernardo Bertolucci on Monday in response to outrage over the weekend from the likes of Jessica Chastain, Evan Rachel Wood, Chris Evans and others after they came across a 2013 interview in which the Italian auteur seemed to say he and actor Marlon Brando had conspired to spring an unscripted sex scene on a nonconsenting Maria Schneider. 

“To all the people that love this film — you’re watching a 19yr old get raped by a 48yr old man. The director planned her attack. I feel sick,” Chastain tweeted Saturday. "The Office" actress Jenna Fischer called for all copies of the film to be "destroyed immediately."

The director said Monday — in Italian, in a statement obtained and translated by Variety — that there was a "misunderstanding" about that interview. "I decided with Marlon Brando not to inform Maria that we would have used butter. We wanted her spontaneous reaction to that improper use." The rest of the scene, he said, was in the script. 

Schneider, who died in 2011, told the Daily Mail in 2007 that she learned about the plan to use butter as a lubricant right before cameras rolled, and said that "during the scene, even though what Marlon was doing wasn't real, I was crying real tears. I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Brando and by Bertolucci."

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