Last Tango actress Maria Schneider dies

French actress Maria Schneider, who shot to fame for her provocative performance in the classic “Last Tango in Paris”, has died aged 58.

20-year-old Maria Schneider
20-year-old Maria Schneider MGM/IMDb

Schneider was 19 when she played alongside Marlon Brando in the 1972 classic about a French woman who meets a American businessman for anonymous sex in Paris.

The movie won several Oscar nominations and became an instant sucess.

"Together with the film, she gave American puritanism a shove. At that time, transgression was still possible and Maria could not resist the temptation to live it fully, body and soul, with all her beauty and joy," said film director Bernardo Bertolucci. Several countries banned it over its graphic sex scenes.

Bertolucci however admitted Schneider was too young to wishstand the impact of the film’s success. “Last Tango in Paris” gave her a reputation that was difficult to shake off and she refused to appear in a nude scene ever again.

In an interview with Britain’s Daily Mail, Schneider said she felt manipulated into taking part in the sex scenes of "Last Tango in Paris".

"I was too young to know better. Marlon later said that he felt manipulated, and he was Marlon Brando, so you can imagine how I felt. People thought I was like the girl in the movie, but that wasn't me.

"I felt very sad because I was treated like a sex symbol - I wanted to be recognized as an actress and the whole scandal and aftermath of the film turned me a little crazy and I had a breakdown."

In the 1970s, Schneider stuggled with a drug addiction and only reappeared later in several films including “The Passenger” alongside actor Jack Nicholson.

Her family say she died in Paris after a long illness.

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