Maria Schneider (born March 27, 1952 in Paris) is a French actress who is most famous for playing "Jeanne" opposite Marlon Brando in the 1972 movie Last Tango in Paris. She did numerous full-frontal (breasts and vulva clearly displayed) scenes in the film, which were controversial for the time.
Born as Marie Christine Gélin, she is the daughter of French actor Daniel Gélin and Marie-Christine Schneider. Following her success and critical acclaim in Last Tango in Paris, she disappeared from film for some time
In 1974, Schneider came out as bisexual. In early 1976, she abandoned the film set for Caligula and checked herself into a mental hospital in Rome for several days with a woman she described as her lover. This, coupled with her refusal to do nudity, led to Maria's dismissal and she was replaced by Teresa Ann Savoy.
In 2007, in an interview with Daily Mail, Schneider described Tango's director, Bernardo Bertolucci, as "fat and sweaty and very manipulative, both of Marlon and myself, and did certain things to get (her reaction)." As for her working relationship with Brando, she says that, while their relationship on the set was paternal, it was Brando who came up with the "butter" scene and it was only known to her before filming it:
I should have called my agent or had my lawyer come to the set because you can't force someone to do something that isn't in the script, but at the time, I didn't know that. Marlon said to me: 'Maria, don't worry, it's just a movie,' but 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 Marlon and by Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn't console me or apologize. Thankfully, there was just one take.
She and Brando, however, remained friends until his death, though they never spoke of the movie for "a while."
She also says that her experience with the film—and her treatment as a sex symbol rather than as a serious actress—forced her to never do films with nude scenes again. The subsequent fame caused by the film forced her to escape into drugs throughout the remainder of the decade, with overdoses and suicide attempts:
I was very lucky - I lost many friends to drugs - but I met someone in 1980 who helped me stop. I call this person my angel and we've been together ever since. I don't say if it's a man or a woman. That's my secret garden. I like to keep it a mystery.
In 2008, the Belgian band dEUS released a song called The Vanishing of Maria Schneider.
- Hadleigh, Boze (2001), The Lavender Screen: The Gay and Lesbian Films, Citadel Press, p. 81, ISBN 0806521996
- Abrams, Richard M. (2006), America Transformed: Sixty Years of Revolutionary Change, 1941-2001, Cambridge University Press, pp. 165–6, ISBN 0521862469
- Ebert, Roger. "Interview with Maria Schneider", Chicago Sun-Times, 1975-09-14. Retrieved on 2007-04-21.
- Das, Lina. "I felt raped by Brando", Daily Mail, 1975-09-14. Retrieved on 2007-04-21.
- Maria Schneider at the Internet Movie Database
- Biography (in French) at Allocine.com
- Short biography by Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide
- Short biography and fan page
- Interview with the Daily Mail, 19 July 2007
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